Guyanese authorities lose sight of boat with bodies at sea

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Local authorities were late Tuesday still trying to locate and recover the vessel containing several decomposed bodies which was spotted on Monday in Guyana’s waters.

Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill told the media at an emergency press conference late Tuesday that “unfortunately and distressingly so” those persons who have been in pursuit of the boat over the last 24 hours have lost sight of the boat.

He said the boat was last seen around 19:55h some 83 nautical miles from Guyana’s shore on Monday night but after several hours of aerial and water patrol on Tuesday, authorities came up empty-handed.

Reports of the first sighting of the boat were made around 14:00h on Monday by a private operator drifting some 112 nautical miles from the Georgetown coast.

The Maritime Administration (MARAD), the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) were all notified and went out at sea last night to tow the boat to shore.

According to Edghill, while the boat was sighted again at 19:55h, the authorities were unable to get close to the boat to allow for it to be attached to another vessel and towed to shore due to bad weather.

Plots showing the projected movement of the boat with the decomposed bodies (Photo: News Room/February 16, 2021)

Edghill said two boats with members of the GDF Coast Guard, police ranks and local residents were dispatched from North/West along with a helicopter from the GDF for well over five hours. They were also supported by a helicopter from ExxonMobil, but the boat was not sighted.

“Having had five hours of aerial surveillance and scoping of the general area by several boats…this, unfortunately, causing distress because we have not been able to get it attached to a tow line and we have not seen it for the entire day,” Edghill said.

Authorities are now speculating that it may have drifted into another country’s waters or could have sunk because of the rainy weather and rough seas.

“Anything we say is highly speculative, it is not conclusive because we can’t find the boat,” Edghill added.

Edghill told the media that no boat and crew have been reported missing in Guyana. He said he contacted the authorities in Suriname and there have been no reports of a missing boat either.

The authorities here are still not sure as to the origin of the boat and the nationality of the deceased persons.

Addressing the media during the emergency press conference at the Maritime Emergency Rescue Coordination Centre at the Stabroek Wharf in Georgetown, Edghill was joined by Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn; Director-General (DG) of the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD), Stephen Thomas and director of Maritime Safety, Captain John Flores.

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