Relatives of the 53-year-old seaman Lilkumar (only name), who died on a ship en route to St. Lucia nearly two weeks ago say they are suspicious about the circumstances surrounding his death and do not believe that he died of natural causes.
The Lady Zai, a Saint Vincent & the Grenadines-registered ship which is managed by a Guyanese company—KB Enterprise —departed Guyana two weeks ago with a ten-man crew destined for the Vieux Fort Seaport with animal grains.
Lilkumar, of Windsor Forest, West Coast Deme-rara, was on the ship and when it arrived at a St. Lucia dock he was dead and the ship’s chef, Latchman Seeram, was suffering from a respiratory illness.
At a news conference on March 11, St. Lucian Senior Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Belmar-George had said an emergency post-mortem, was performed on his remains and the cause of death was listed as broncho-pneumonia.
However, Lilkumar’s brother Brandon (the only name given) said he was suspicious of foul play because his brother left Guyana healthy. “When the people from the office bring the news I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it because he left here well,” he said.
“He is a strong guy…and it was just a few days…he left the Thursday night and the Saturday we heard that he was dead because he got sick.”
Lilkumar’s body is expected to arrive in Guyana on Friday while Seeram, who was hospitalized, was treated and released.
Meanwhile, officials at KB Enterprise refused to comment on the issue, only saying that MARAD is dealing with it.
According to statement from the Maritime Admi-nistration Department (MARAD) the quarantine on the Lady Zai and its crew has been “conditionally lifted”. Officials from St. Lucia said that the entire ship should undergo sanitization before its cargo is offloaded and also prior to its departure from the island.
MARAD had said that the crew members were ordered to remain onboard where their conditions could be monitored as a usual precautionary measure to protect the local population from contracting any possible communicable disease.
Prior to the vessel arriving in St. Lucia, the island’s port health officials were informed of the situation and when it arrived in St. Lucia, Lilkumar was already dead and Seeram was ill.
The cargo aboard the Lady Zai is the property of Caribbean Grains—a Vieux Fort Freezone feed mill whix, an operation which produces feed for all types of farm animals for the local market. (Jeanna Pearson)