Lankan crew member aboard Italy-bound cruise ship brought ashore

A Sri Lankan national, performing duties aboard the cruise ship MSC ‘Magnifica,’ recently made a request, over social media, to get him back to Sri Lanka. Accordingly, with the approval of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and the direct involvement of the Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Piyal de Silva, the Navy safely retrieved the Sri Lankan and brought him to the Colombo harbour yesterday (06).

The vessel, which set sail on 05th January 2020, with about 2700 crew and passengers aboard, had to cancel its tour, while in Australia, due to the worldwide coronavirus epidemic. Since the vessel was not accepted by any port, it subsequently decided to set sail to Italy, where the parent company is located.

During the course of its journey to Italy, the ship was scheduled to arrive at the port of Colombo for replenishment. It is in this backdrop, the only Sri Lankan on board the cruise ship, Anura Bandara Herath, requested the authorities to help him get back to Sri Lanka. As a result of the timely intervention of the President, a team of the Navy's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Unit was dispatched to the passenger ship, which was about 4.4 nautical miles (09km) off the port of Colombo, and the Sri Lankan was safely retrieved and transferred ashore this morning. Meanwhile, a 75-old-German female passenger, suffering from heart pain on board the cruise liner, was also safely brought ashore by the Navy.

Subsequently, the Presidential Task Force, on prevention of COVID-19, was informed about this and, upon its directives, the Sri Lankan and the German woman were disinfected on the harbour premises, in accordance with the proper sterilization procedures. Subsequently, the Sri Lankan was directed to the Boossa Naval Quarantine Centre for 21 days of quarantine following all safety guidelines. Meanwhile, the German woman was rushed to the National Hospital Colombo for treatment. In order to be prepared for such eventualities, a formal training programme was conducted on 13th of March, at the Colombo Port premises, by the Navy, in collaboration with the Ports Authority and the Health Ambulance Service “Suwa Sariya”. Upon disembarkation, Anura Bandara Herath expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the Sri Lankan government, the President, and the Navy for taking prompt action to get him back to Sri Lanka.

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