A 28-year-old man named Justin Kuruvila from Kottayam in Kerala has been missing while on a cargo vessel, sailing to New York from South Africa. He was appointed as an assistant cook on ‘Stream Atlantic’ and went missing on 7 February, and his whereabouts have remained unknown so far. The ship was in the Atlantic Ocean and crossing Durban when the incident happened. Justin had been employed on the same ship for four years.
According to information from Republic Media Network, the family is worried as there have been no new updates besides a mere confirmation of him continuing to be missing. The family tried seeking help from the police and also filed a complaint. They also approached the country’s Ministry of External Affairs.
The missing man’s family alleged that no information regarding Justin’s missing was shared with them until they got in touch with the company. The family wrote to the company and received a mail on 10 February.
Justin would make WhatsApp calls to his family every day. But they noticed something was amiss on 7 February, when his mother had called but it went unanswered. Panicked, the family got in touch with the recruiting agency only to learn that Justin was missing,
Arjun, Justin’s colleague, also a native of Kottayam, called the family after they had got in touch with the company. Arjun met Justin on 7 February, and he seemed happy then. Justin had also said that he would be present for his duty but did not show up. When he tried looking for Justin later, he could not find him. Arjun also informed Justin’s family that the vessel stopped for about 24 hours to look for Justin, yet he could not be found.
Manoj Joy, the Community Manager of Sailors’ Society, a maritime charity that supports seamen and their families, confirmed that Justin did not report for work on 7 February.
An officer had waked him up at around 4 pm but Justin mentioned that he was not feeling okay. After this, the officer left. The same officer tried checking in around 6pm to find that Justin was nowhere.
The vessel dropped its anchor in the Atlantic for three days to look for Justin. In line with standard processes, an investigation will be conducted. The relevant authorities, including national consulates, DG Shipping, and flag state have been advised.
Indian politicians, including Thomas Chazhikkadan, VN Vasavan, and the Minister for Corporation, and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy have paid a visit to Justin’s family, guaranteeing support.
Thomas Chazhikkadan from Kottayam has also reached out to the South African embassy regarding the disappearance. The ship is expected to reach New York around the end of February. The MP has gotten in touch with relevant authorities over there too.