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Cause of explosion which caused sailor’s death still uncertain despite second inquest

PUBLISHED: 13:00 07 February 2019

Manhattan Bridge container ship docked at Felixstowe port, were a boiler backfired in the engine room, killing Celso Banas in January 2017 Picture: MIKE PENNOCK

Manhattan Bridge container ship docked at Felixstowe port, were a boiler backfired in the engine room, killing Celso Banas in January 2017 Picture: MIKE PENNOCK

A jury could not establish the exact cause of a boiler explosion that resulted in the death of crewman in Felixstowe.

The Manhattan Bridge, a Japanese-registered ship, was travelling between Felixstowe and Rotterdam when the boiler exploded Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Manhattan Bridge, a Japanese-registered ship, was travelling between Felixstowe and Rotterdam when the boiler exploded Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Celso Banas, a 35-year-old sailor from The Philippines, was on board the Japanese-registered Manhattan Bridge shipping vessel when the boiler exploded in January 2017.

The jury heard that Mr Banas died after suffering multiple burn-related injuries, lacerations and skull fractures.

Despite the best efforts of paramedics, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

After two years and two inquests, on February 6 a jury returned a narrative conclusion to the case - meaning that they are able to create a sequence of events from the day but cannot agree a cause of death.

Celso Banas, 35, from The Philippines, died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the explosion on board the Manhattan Bridge in Felixstowe Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCelso Banas, 35, from The Philippines, died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the explosion on board the Manhattan Bridge in Felixstowe Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The jury returned the conclusion unanimously after a little over an hour of deliberation.

At the opening of the second inquest, the court heard details of the catastrophic boiler explosion that happened on board the Japanese registered container ship on a voyage from Rotterdam to Felixstowe.

The court heard how Jose Pagahacian, an engine boy on board the ship, rushed to the scene after hearing an explosion followed by a fire alarm.

On arrival, he said he saw “black smoke” and Mr Dongon suffering from severe burns following the explosion.

Felixstowe Docks, as seen from Shotley. It is Picture: DEBORAH ELlAMFelixstowe Docks, as seen from Shotley. It is Picture: DEBORAH ELlAM

He then caught sight of Mr Banas with his leg “on fire”.

Riomer Bugas, chief officer on board the Manhattan Bridge at the time of the incident, said he knew the boiler had exploded because he could “smell carbon”.

“In 11 years I have never experienced anything like this,” he said.

The inquest also heard from Leo Tagala, first engineer, who saw the repairs made to the ship in Hamburg after the incident.

Mr Tagala said the boiler’s burner filter was “blocked with wax” - which can build up in a filter in cold conditions if a ship’s fuel is not treated with the correct chemical, Octomar Winter.

The ship’s first engineer, Marrano Malunao, said that the ship was not carrying enough of the chemical despite instruction from the ships management company,

Nigel Parsley, Suffolk’s senior coroner, said the purpose of the inquest was to determine how Mr Banas and reiterated that it was not the role of the Coroner’s Office to apportion blame in the case.

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