Ship part

Two men who entered manhole aboard ship died due to lack of oxygen, coroner’s inquest finds

SINGAPORE – Two Bangladeshi workers who entered a manhole aboard a dredging vessel last year have died due to lack of oxygen, an investigator (IO) from the Ministry of Main has said. -d’oeuvre (MOM) in court on Thursday 24 March.

IO Tan Soon Heng was giving evidence on the first day of the coroner’s inquest into the circumstances leading to the deaths of Mr Forhad and Mr Kolil Ibrahim, who died on May 19 last year.

MOM told the Straits Times last year that the incident happened in Singapore’s eastern waters. The two men – aged 31 and 37 – were employed by KSE Marine Works.

The manhole at deck level led to the ship’s ballast tank.

The court heard that Mr Forhad, a supervisor, entered the manhole to check a suspected leaking hydraulic line on May 19 last year.

Investigations revealed that a project manager had asked Mr Forhad to check the pipes but had not been given specific instructions to enter the manhole, police IO Muhammad told the court Ruzaini bin Osman, who was on duty on the day of the incident.

IO Ruzaini added that the project manager did not expect Mr. Forhad to enter the manhole but only perform a visual inspection of the exterior of the manhole. However, Mr. Forhad entered the manhole.

Another worker on the vessel who had just completed a welding job saw the manhole open. He entered it and found Forhad unconscious on the ground.

The second worker, then aged 39, also fainted.

Mr. Kolil then went to the manhole, found the second man unconscious and asked the other crew members to bring a ventilator. He too then lost consciousness.

The second man managed to regain consciousness and get out after the crew forced ventilation into the tank.

The Singapore Police and Civil Defense Force, who had been called, arrived on the vessel and extracted Mr Forhad and Mr Kolil, but pronounced them dead.

SCDF officers tested the oxygen level in the tank and detected it at 18.5%. IO Ruzaini said that human beings need an oxygen level of 19.5% to function normally.

“Anything below is quite dangerous,” he added.

IO Ruzaini said crew members had previously been instructed not to enter confined spaces.

He added: “They are not trained to enter and had no breathing apparatus.”