Coast Guard recovers body from Waini River mishap

The injured Phyllis Archer (Photo from Captain Gerry Gouveia’s Facebook Page)

Coast Guards patrolling on the Waini River have recovered the body suspected to be that of Carl Archer, the visually-impaired man who went missing last Sunday following the explosion of a boat on the river.

Maritime Administration (MARAD)  Director of Safety Captain John Flores told this newspaper last Thursday that the body was recovered on Tuesday on the Shell Beach foreshore in Region One.

Flores added that it was in an advanced stage of decomposition, making it difficult to be positively identified.

With one person still missing, he pointed out that small vessels are still carrying out searches on the Waini River, close to Shell Beach.

Flores further indicated that while his agency is awaiting a formal report from the Coast Guard, it is working closely and an investigation is ongoing.

Additionally, the Director of Safety said that MARAD is still to receive the requested information of how many passengers were aboard the boat and other necessary information from the owner of the boat. The passenger boat is owned by a Guyanese but is registered in Venezuela. The craft was said to be a wooden boat with two 200-horsepower engines.

Asked if any of the female passengers were being trafficked into the country, Flores responded in the negative. He explained that the boat left from a legal port and was destined for Charity, Region Two, where the passengers would have undergone immigration checks.

To his knowledge, he stated that there was no indication of any breach of regulations. Police Commander Kelvin Adonis had also told this newspaper that there was no indication or reports of human trafficking.

Meanwhile, Archer’s wife, Phyllis Archer, who sustained severe burns, remains a patient in the Burn Care Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital.

On Sunday around 8am, the passenger boat transporting approximately 22 persons exploded on the Waini River.

Information received from the Coast Guard ranks who rendered assistance on Sunday indicated that 14 persons were rescued and taken to the Mabaruma Public Hospital. Flores had said that a Venezuelan passenger boat was also in the vicinity at the time and assisted in rescuing the passengers. Passengers who were rescued by the Venezuelan boat were taken over to Venezuela.

An injured Archer, 73, had 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.

She remains a patient at the George-town Public Hospital in stable condition.

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