Tragedy at backtrack route: ‘We will not stop searching’, say families of missing Guyanese

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The families of the three Guyanese who are missing and feared drowned are hoping they can find them safe and alive and have pledged not to stop searching.

Those missing are 77-year-old Baboni Harihar of Percy Smith Street, Palmyra Village; 48-year-old Sharida Hussain known as ‘Sherry’, of Pilot Street, New Amsterdam and Alwin Joseph, who is said to be in his 30s. Joseph is a Guyanese national who resides in Suriname.

The trio was on their way back to Guyana from Suriname via the backtrack route in a speed boat when they informed relatives that they were dropped off in waist-deep water in the dark on Tuesday night. They have not been heard from or seen since.

Hussain’s youngest son, 19-year-old Joshua Samaroo, told the News Room he has not been able to sleep since he received a frantic telephone call from his mother at around 19:30h on Tuesday.

He said his mother was panicking and told him she was dropped off in the dark in waist-deep water and had no idea where she was.

“Around 07:30 (pm) she called me in panic, it was a bunch of emotions; she was scared, she was panicking, she was cold. She said she was dropped by a sandbank and it was very dark with no visual of land and the water was getting higher,” Samaroo recalled in the last conversation with his mother.

The emotional young man said he was several villages away from Number 63 Beach and so he hurriedly made it to the spot but there was no sign of his mother.

The police and families are combing the Corentyne River for the missing trio (Photo: News Room/February 09, 2021)

Samaroo said he and his friends reached out to persons to find out if she may have been dropped off at other ports of entry but this was not the case.  The distraught young man was also part of a search and rescue river patrol with the police as they combed the Corentyne River between Number 78 and Number 63 Villages.

Up to late Tuesday evening, the young man and his friends remained at the Number 63 Beach with the hope of finding his mother.

Meanwhile, Nadira Valdez, the granddaughter of Baboni Harihar, told the News Room that her grandmother was anxious to return home, hence the trip. According to Valdez, relatives tried to make contact with the grandmother via telephone as they averaged what time she would have arrived but all calls went to voicemail. As a result, they decided to show up at Number 63 Beach to check if she was there, but the elderly woman could not be found.

At the same location, the families met each other and then realised that the trio is missing.

“I don’t know what happened. We searched last night and all day today and will continue tomorrow until we can find her,” the granddaughter said amid tears.

Meanwhile, a number of persons gathered at the Number 65 Village house of Joseph as they planned their next trip to search at various locations. Narinee Shamsundar, a cousin, told the News Room that he contacted her via telephone to say he was returning home.

Joseph is a father of one and resides and works in the neighbouring country.

At around 19:00h Tuesday, he called once more to let her know he was on the boat and then later contacted her brother in the United States to say that he arrived.

“Since then to now, I didn’t hear back anything”, Shamsundar said.

Shamsundar said when the family arrived at the beach, Joseph was nowhere to be found.

The families have been frantically combing the shore of the beach most of the day and have made a commitment to continue the search. The police in ‘B’ Division have informed their counterparts in Suriname about the developments.

Guyana’s borders with Suriname has been closed since March 2020 in an effort to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus. As a result, many persons have been using the backtrack route to conduct business.

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