Trinidad Coast Guard Ready To Join Search For Missing Venezuelans

Trinidad Guardian- The T&T Coast Guard (TTCG) is on stand­by should they be called for help by the Venezue­lan Coast Guard as the search con­tin­ues for 19 refugees, who have been feared drowned af­ter the pirogue they were in sunk last Thurs­day.

The lone sur­vivor of the in­ci­dent, Al­ber­to Abreu, 25, of Mar­gari­ta, who was res­cued by a US busi­ness­man Robert Richards, Vir­gin Is­lands, is cur­rent­ly in Grena­da.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­lease is­sued by the TTCG’s Pub­lic Af­fairs Of­fi­cer, Lieu­tenant Ker­ron Valere, on May 17 at 1443 hours (2:43 pm), the TTCG re­ceived in­for­ma­tion from North Post Ra­dio that a civil­ian ves­sel re­trieved an in­di­vid­ual who was in the wa­ter in a po­si­tion ap­prox­i­mate­ly 18 miles north of Cha­cachacare, with­in T&T’s ter­ri­to­r­i­al wa­ters.

The for­eign na­tion­al, it added, in­di­cat­ed that he was on board a ves­sel with 19 oth­ers which de­part­ed Mar­gari­ta Is­land, Venezuela en route to Trinidad on the pre­vi­ous day.

“Up­on re­ceiv­ing this in­for­ma­tion, the TTCG im­me­di­ate­ly de­ployed its mar­itime as­sets to aid in the Search and Res­cue Op­er­a­tion. The TTCG has been in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Venezue­lan coun­ter­parts in the at­tempt to dis­cov­er ad­di­tion­al per­sons with fur­ther search­es be­ing con­duct­ed with­in the wa­ters of Trinidad and To­ba­go since the ini­tial dis­cov­ery,” Valere said.

“Based on the cal­cu­lat­ed search area, it must be not­ed that these miss­ing in­di­vid­u­als are most like­ly in Venezue­lan wa­ters and there­fore will be lo­cat­ed with­in the Mar­itime Res­cue Co­or­di­na­tion Cen­tre of Venezuela and as such it is their re­spon­si­bil­i­ty to in­ves­ti­gate and co­or­di­nate search and res­cue op­er­a­tions with­in that ge­o­graph­ic area,” he added.

The TTCG, how­ev­er, as­sured that it will con­tin­ue to per­form its Search and Res­cue Op­er­a­tions, due to our diplo­mat­ic links with the Bo­li­var­i­an Re­pub­lic of Venezuela as well as in ac­cor­dance with the In­ter­na­tion­al Con­ven­tion for the Safe­ty of Life at Sea (SO­LAS) and In­ter­na­tion­al Con­ven­tion on Mar­itime Search and Res­cue (SAR).

Rel­a­tives of the miss­ing refugees who have not been seen since they left Güiria, Venezuela, begged for search­es to be launched to find their miss­ing loved ones.

The five Venezue­lans told Guardian Me­dia their rel­a­tives, in­clud­ing in­fants and chil­dren, were on board the pirogue Ana Maria which left Güiria at about 4 pm last Thurs­day bound for Ch­aguara­mas.

How­ev­er, while theTTCG is stand­ing by to help, re­ports out of Venezuela are that mil­i­tary and civ­il of­fi­cials there are yet to launch search­es for the miss­ing ves­sel.

Con­cerns have been raised by mem­bers of the op­po­si­tion-led Na­tion­al As­sem­bly with one deputy, Robert Al­calá, claim­ing that Venezue­lan au­thor­i­ties have have re­fused to send air sup­port to search the area where the ves­sel is be­lieved to have disp­peared.

Car­los Valero, an­oth­er mem­ber of the N­ation­al As­sem­bly, has cir­cu­lat­ed a list of names which he said were of 22 of the 29 peo­ple who were on board the Ana Maria.

He told the El Na­cional news­pa­per: “The ship was wrecked and up to now on­ly one per­son has been res­cued. This is the sec­ond boat to sink on that same route in less than a month.”

On Sat­ur­day, Robert Richards, a busi­ness­man from the US Vir­gin Is­lands, said in a post on his Face­book page that Abreu, a pas­sen­ger from the miss­ing ves­sel, was res­cued af­ter he was found drift­ing in the sea off Ch­aguara­mas and tak­en to Grena­da.

He wrote: “We found this young man 30 miles off­shore of Trinidad in some sporty sea con­di­tions fight­ing for his life, he had been in the wa­ter for 19 hours, while we were bring­ing our new boats back. He was on a boat that sunk the night be­fore with 20 oth­er peo­ple on board, so far no oth­er sur­vivors, they were on their way to Trinidad to buy food be­cause there home of Is­la De Mar­gari­ta, a Venezuela is­land has lim­it­ed food that’s very ex­pen­sive, it’s a very sad thing go­ing on there GOD bless the lost ones!”