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Force majeure declared as COVID-hit ship returns to Italy

Force majeure declared as COVID-hit ship returns to Italy
At least two crew members have tested positive for the virus

Evergreen’s Ital Libera is headed for Italy two months after the death of its Italian captain as Asian port authorities refuse to accept the ship that was hit with an outbreak of COVID-19.

The 5,090 teu ship was en route from Durban to Singapore when Captain Angelo Capurro, 61, became ill, dying on April 13 in Indonesian waters.

He was brought aboard during a routine crew change in Durban, reportedly testing negative for COVID-19 before boarding the ship.

During a two-week voyage across the Indian Ocean, a number of crew reported becoming sick and at least two crew members reportedly tested positive for the virus.

Capurro died before the ship reached Singapore, possibly from COVID-19 or other circumstances aggravated by the virus, and for almost two months Indonesian and other Asian authorities have denied the ship access on the grounds of COVID-19 quarantine.

Force majeure has been declared and the vessel has been diverted to call Italy first in order to repatriate the captain, a notice from Hapag-Lloyd explained.

La Repubblica reported last month that Capurro’s family members have denounced the lack of adequate assistance and a judicial investigation, opened by the public prosecutor’s office of La Spezia, is ongoing.

Italy has ordered that an autopsy be performed to determine the cause of death and that his remains should be immediately repatriated.

The family have also launched a fundraiser on GoFundMe to support the legal costs and for the return of the captain’s body.

Speaking to La Repubblica, the captain’s daughter Maria Eleonora Mollard Capurro, said: “We will fight so that this tragedy that has struck us is not archived, ending up in the anonymity of the numbers of forgotten statistics.”