Crewman from sunken boat found alive

Elbert Jack Jnr, one of four crewmen missing after the MV Crisann-V sank on Wednesday, was found alive yesterday, while the reports of a sighting of another saw a search and rescue team deployed to Tiger Beach, an area off of the Pomeroon.

Elbert Jack Snr confirmed to Stabroek News that his 24-year-old son was found and he is currently being treated at the Mabaruma hospital. Jack Jnr is expected to be flown to Georgetown some time today to be reunited with his family.

Because of his emotional state, the senior Jack was unable to go into details of his son’s rescue, however, he said that the young man had given Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) officials information.

Three others, the captain and owner of the vessel John Vansluytman, of Ruby, East Bank Essequibo, Julian Garraway of the Pomeroon River  and Charles Fredericks, who were part of the nine-member crew when the ship sank Wednesday night in the vicinity of Moruca River mouth, are still missing.

Elbert Jack Jnr

At the time, the ship was being used as a tug to tow a pontoon with land dredging mining equipment into the interior. It had left an area near to Charity heading for the interior but developed a leak in the vicinity of the Moruca Mouth and Waini River. Five crewmembers were initially rescued.

Minister of Transport Robeson Benn, speaking at a press briefing yesterday afternoon, said the Guyana Defence Force Bell 206 chopper had been deployed to Tiger Beach, where there were reports of a sighting of a person. Benn also informed the media that fishermen were told of the situation and to be on alert for any sighting of the missing crewmembers.

In addition, the authorities have organised searches along with rescue efforts by families of the missing, covering the area where it is likely that the men would be found.

Benn reiterated at the briefing his disappointment at the late communication of the incident to MARAD officials, although they received word that a call was made from the vessel to the captain’s brother informing him that it was sinking. It was suggested that this was because the vessel, which had failed inspections in 2008, is not currently registered with MARAD. MARAD officials had previously said that the vessel should not have been in operation since its seaworthiness left much to be desired and despite the failed inspection it was still in operation.

A survivor has said the ship was operating with its hull and other surfaces covered with cement while its body was also plastered with “Euroband” to prevent seepages. It was a cavity in the hull that caused the leak. Despite the urging of the crew that they abort their voyage, the captain refused, saying it was a minor problem and that he would pump the water out. However, the pump malfunctioned and while members of the crew attempted to board the pontoon to retrieve another pump, the ship slammed into it and its sides were ripped apart.

Although there were nine men on board, the survivor said that there was only one life jacket and six life rings. It is unclear how many used the life preservers, but survivor Subask Kisten said only five made it safely to the pontoon, while the others drifted away with the tide.

Minster Benn said that the incident illustrates the need for boat owners to follow safety protocols, including ensuring that vessels are registered and have an efficient data system, including a record of their trips.

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