Venezuelan dies in Waini River boat explosion

-20 persons rescued, one missing

The passenger boat on fire

A boat explosion at the mouth of the Waini River in the north west has claimed the life of a Venezuelan national and a second person is missing and feared dead.

The dead man has been identified as Antonio Ramon Wells, his body was found on the Shell Beach foreshore. A third person, a pensioner Phyllis Archer, 73, who sustained severe burns was rushed to the Mabaruma, North West District hospital and later flown to the Georgetown Public Hospital for further medical attention. Archer’s husband, Carl Archer, a visually impaired man has been identified as the missing person.

Details surrounding the explosion remain unclear. However, Stabroek News gathered that the passenger boat was travelling from Venezuela to Charity, Region 2 when it burst into flames.

Police last night said that the boat, captained by a Guyanese, left Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela yesterday morning at around 4. Five Guyanese and 17 Venezuelans were aboard the boat.

Phyllis related to the police that she heard a loud explosion and the boat burst into flames. According to the police, passengers began jumping out of the boat while Phyllis remained in the back seat  with her husband. As a result of the fire spreading she sustained burns about her body.

Not long after, the boat began to sink but she was rescued by responders from the Protected Areas Commission (PAC).

A statement from the PAC said that a “team at Almond Beach responded to a report of a passenger boat on fire, 6 miles east of our Field Station.”

“Our Team was able to rescue a woman, who was still holding on to the boat. They took her to Mabaruma, and on the way made reports to the Police and Coast Guard. The Regional Chairman was contacted to mobilise (an) ambulance, which took her to the hospital,” the statement added.

According to the statement from the PAC, residents of Almond Beach also went out to render assistance and rescue the passengers.

Chairman of Region One, Brentnol Ashley last night told this newspaper that 20 persons from the passenger boat were rescued by responders from the PAC and the Coast Guard while the boat was in the vicinity of Shell Beach. A Venezuelan boat also assisted in rescuing persons.

Based on the information given to him, Ashley explained that 22 persons were on the boat when the mishap occurred and 13 persons were rescued and rushed to the Mabaruma Hospital for medical attention. He said only Archer sustained severe burns and all the others were treated for minor injuries.

The craft was said to be a wooden boat carrying two 200-horsepower engines. The registration of the boat was not revealed.

Investigations are currently ongoing

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