Up to last night a search and rescue mission was ongoing for four men who are missing after the tug and barge they were on sank and ran aground respectively on Wednesday night in the vicinity of Iron Punt along the Waini Coast in Region One.
Missing are Charles Fredericks, two men whose names were given only as Elliot and Vansluytman and another man. Vansluytman is said to be the vessel’s captain and the men hail from the Pomeroon.
Out of a crew of nine persons, five of them were rescued by a fishing boat named `Shirley’.
Reports are that around 23:00 hours on Wednesday the tug, called ‘MV Crescent V’, was pulling a barge laden with mining equipment including an excavator and a dredge when the two vessels collided along the waterway.
The vessels were at the time heading to the mining community of Port Kaituma from Buck Hall along the Essequibo River via Charity.
A source at Port Kaituma noted that the owner of the mining equipment, whose name was given as Tony and who hails from the Pomeroon River, was shifting his operations from the Essequibo River area to Port Kaituma.
Rescue teams travelled to and from the Port Kaituma community yesterday in search of the men to no avail.
The two vessels departed the Buck Hall area early on Wednesday afternoon and made a stop along the trip to the North West District at Charity.
Speaking to Stabroek News last night, Works Minister Robeson Benn said that a boat had departed from Moruca to assist in the search and rescue mission yesterday and that rescue teams were still scouring the area looking for the missing men.
Benn said that the vessels ran into difficulties on their way and there might have been a collision between the tug and the barge it was towing while the crew tried to perform a manoeuvre. This, he said, might have caused the tug to sink and the barge to run aground. Benn also confirmed that the captain of the tug and three others are missing so far.
The Minister said that if by this morning there is no word from the boat that went out to look for the men, then the rescue coordination team will send out an aerial reconnaissance mission to aid in the rescue efforts.