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Maritime Disaster to Be Probed

– Transport Minister Haim Landau will appoint a national investigating committee to inquire into the sinking of the Zim Lines’ bulk carrier Mezada in the Atlantic near Bermuda last March 8 if the board of inquiry presently conducting the investigation recommends it, Ministry sources said today. Twenty-four officers and seamen died, including the Mezada’s master, Capt. Gera Levin, in what was Israel’s worst maritime disaster.

The seamens’ unions have expressed concern that the board, which began its meetings yesterday, lacks the proper authority to draw conclusions as to why the 19,000-ton vessel foundered. Lawyers for the union noted that the board lacks the power to subpoena witnesses and therefore might leave many questions unanswered.

At today’s meeting of the board, officials of the Zim Lines said the Mezada’s captain sounded less anxious about the threat to his ship in his messages to Haifa than in his wireless calls to Bermuda. The Mezada, enroute from Ashdod to Baltimore, sank in a severe gale. Zim Lines officials told the board that events moved fast and the company management in Haifa was not aware of how serious conditions were.

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