One body has been recovered and eight persons are missing after two boats collided earlier today in the vicinity of Crab Falls, in the Mazaruni River, Essequibo.
GINA tonight said that Bartica police have confirmed that the one body recovered so far is that of Jermaine Calistro. The state information agency added that the search for the others was called of at 10 tonight and will resume tomorrow.
Transport Minister Robeson Benn said that the boats were at the time carrying a combined passenger load of 20. Several persons also received minor injuries and were taken to the Bartica Hospital for treatment.
Benn further said that the police, a team from the Maritime Administration Department and a search party have all converged on the area to locate the missing persons and ascertain the cause of the collision. He said that he was also preparing to travel up to the area, when this newspaper spoke with him.
Meanwhile, the Guyana Defence Force, upon the request of the Minister of Transport and Hydraulics, has deployed Coast Guard and Infantry troops to aid in the search for the nine persons, a release from Camp Ayanganna said.
The GDF added that personnel of the GDF Air Corps are on standby and will be incorporated as is necessary.
GINA this afternoon issued the following statement:
“Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn and other Government officials have left for the Mazaruni River, Region Seven in the wake of reports of two boats colliding and nine persons missing.
“Minister Benn told the Government Information Agency that two boats, one carrying 12 persons and the other nine, collided around 12:30 hrs today in the vicinity of Crab Falls, 25 miles upstream from Bartica.
“Several of those involved in the accident were at the Bartica Hospital being treated for injuries.
“Bartica police confirmed that the accident occurred when one vessel struck the other causing one of the boats to split in two. The specifics of cause of the impact are yet to be ascertained.
“Two Brazilians are said to have been among the nine passengers who are missing.
“A team of officials from the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) are on their way to the scene. Police ranks from the Bartica station and the captains of the vessels are involved in the search for the nine persons.”
Last month six persons died after two boats collided in the Pomeroon River. That accident prompted renewed calls for measures to be taken to make riverain travel safer.