VISAKHAPATNAM: Stevedores unloading cargo from a ship that berthed at the Visakhapatnam Port here today were shocked to find a man inside what they thought was an empty container.
The man had spent 12 days in the container without food or water and was found in an unconscious state, badly dehydrated.
The container was shipped from Chittagong port in Bangladesh to the Visakha Container Terminal Private Limited [VCTPL) at Visakhapatnam port and had been booked by a Visakhapatnam-based company Samsara Shipping, the local agents for Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Company.
Sources in VCTPL said they had never seen a case like this.
Police said the man did not seem to be a stowaway or a case of organised trafficking. One Town circle inspector B Venkat Rao said the man appeared to be a port worker who may have dozed off inside the container when it was being uploaded in Chittagong.
Port officials admitted the man at the King George Hospital [KGH]. "He is undergoing treatment at KGH under police custody. Once he recovers, further investigation will be taken up to ascertain the facts," the inspector said.
Sources, however, said organised trafficking by shipping containers is prevalent in many countries. In many such cases, stowaways are hidden inside loaded containers along with adequate food and water.
"Given his dehydrated condition, we suspect he accidentally ended up in the container as it is normal for workers to sleep inside empty containers," one official said.