Evidence destroyed aboard death ship

Audio recorded on the upper deck of the coal carrier Sage Sagittarius has gone missing, a coronial inquest was told.

The notorious “death ship” investigation has revealed that the ship’s voyage data recorder (equivalent of a black box on a plane) was supposed to contain audio recordings from the upper deck of the ship when ship’s cook Cesar Llanto disappeared on August 30, 2012.

The inquest heard on Monday that those recordings were overwritten rather than saved, according to owner Hachiuma Steamship representative Kazuhiro Hayashi.

Counsel assisting coroner Philip Strickland said shipping companies had a legal obligation to save any black box data in the event of an incident or crisis to assist future investigations.

Hayashi said he boarded the ship days after the disappearance of chief engineer Hector Collado to manage the situation.

In his first statement to Australian police Hayashi said he suspected Collado did not fall overboard by accident, and may have been a victim of suicide or murder.

When asked at the inquest Hayashi said he did not recall suggesting ship’s oiler Raul Vercede could have been involved in Collado’s death.

Hayashi was asked if he believed the death was accidental, murder or suicide, and said he did not know.

The current hearing continues on Tuesday, and the inquiry will resume in September.

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