Over 600 white Portuguese refugees from Angola left the Cypriot freighter "Silver Sky" at Walvis Bay, South African on Sunday (18 January).
GV Silver Sky entering harbour
SVs Refugees crowded onto decks as ship docks (7 shots)
SV South African officials on board ship
SVs Crew and passengers waiting to disembark (4 shots)
SVs Passengers down gangplank (5 shots)
SV Luggage being unloaded
SV Passenger being carried off as luggage unloading continues (2 shots)
SV Silver Sky captain leaves ship (2 shots)
SV Interview with captain
REPORTER: "Who will be left on board?"
REPORTER: "Have the South African authorities agreed to them all leaving the ship?"
CAPTAIN: "I don't know."
REPORTER: "Why then do you say all will be leaving?"
CAPTAIN: "Because I don't accept any more people on board, I am a freighter."
REPORTER: "So you are not leaving here until everybody is taken off?"
CAPTAIN: "That's true."
Initials CL/1945 CL/2003
This film is serviced with an interview with Captain Panagiotis. A transcript Follows:
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Over 600 white Portuguese refugees from Angola left the Cypriot freighter "Silver Sky" at Walvis Bay, South African on Sunday (18 January).
But another 700 black angolans were left behind aboard the freighter, which arrived at Walvis Bay a week ago. Their fate is still undecided by the South African and Portuguese authorities, although the "Silver Sky's" captain, Okonomakis Panagiotis, said that no-one will be left on his ship when it leave South African waters.
Many of those allowed to leave the freighter, especially small children and the elderly, were too weak to negotiate the swaying gangway to the dockside and had to be helped ashore by members of the ship's crew.
After their papers had been checked and they had been vaccinated they were put on special trains to Windhoek, where they will await flights to Portugal. They were allowed ashore after proving to Portuguese consular officials that they were bona fide Portuguese citizens.
The Silver sky is reported to be rejoining the 24 vessels at anchor outside Walvis Bay with over 1,000 other refugees aboard while a decision is made about their future.
The refugees fled the southern Angolan port of Mocamedes after reports of fighting between UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) and the FNLA (National Front for the Liberation of Angola), supposedly allies in the battle against the Soviet-backed MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola).
It has been reported that non-Portuguese refugees - many of them understood to be members of the FNLA - have been given the choice of returning to Angola or finding refuge elsewhere. According to Reuters some have said that they were considering setting out for Brazil, some 3,500 miles across the Atlantic.
SYNOPSIS: An unusual situation for the Cypriot freighter Silver Sky, seen coming into harbour at Walvis Bay, South Africa on Sunday. Her decks are crammed with refugees from Angola -- over six hundred of them white Portuguese citizens and another seven hundred black Angolans. The Silver Sky arrived at Walvis Bay a week earlier -- having left the southern Angolan port of Mocamedes with the refugees on board. They fled after reports of fighting between UNITA and FNLA forces -- erstwhile allies in the Angolan civil war.
South African officials boarded the ship after she had docked. After their papers had been checked and they had been vaccinated the white Portuguese refugees were allowed to disembark from the Silver Sky, to be put on special trains for the town of Windhoek, where they are waiting for flights to Portugal.
But the black Angolans -- many of them reported to be members of the FNLA -- were left behind on the freighter - their fate still undecided by the South African and Portuguese authorities. Some are understood to be considering setting our for Brazil -- some three-and-a-half thousand miles across the Atlantic.
Many of the Portuguese refugees allowed to leave the ship - especially the elderly and small children -- were too weak to negotiate the swaying gangway to the dockside and had to be helped or carried ashore by members of the crew.
Although the fate of the black Angolans is undecided, Silver Sky Captain, Okonomakis Panagiotis, had views of his own ..