Trinidad: No Chance To Rescue Divers

(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – The company that lost four of its divers in the Paria pipeline says it had the manpower and the means to find them alive.

And those who prevented any rescue attempt, despite being told how it could be done, must be held accountable for not allowing the men a chance to live.

In its first public statement since the February 25 tragedy, LMCS Ltd said yesterday it wants to know how long the men survived after being sucked into the undersea pipe in the waters off Pointe-a-Pierre two Fridays ago.

The company is also determined to find out what caused the sudden suction that pulled in the men to their deaths and plans to hire its own international experts to investigate.

Last week, LMCS hired forensic pathologist Prof Hubert Daisley who performed second private autopsies on the bodies of Fyzal Kurban, Yusuf Henry, and Kazim Ali Jr, who was the only son of the company’s owner.

A similar examination was expected to be done of the body of Rishi Nagassar yesterday.

Organ and body tissue samples were taken for testing, and a report on the approximate time of deaths will be available by weeks’ end.

There has been debate over exactly when the men died, whether it was within hours, or with their oxygen tanks and the air pockets inside the pipeline, it could have been much longer.

Accountability for deaths

Attorney Gerald Ramdeen, who has been hired by LMCS to represent its interest, told the Express that as of yesterday, LMCS had no official word from Paria that it had been pulled from the worksite.

“At this time, we don’t even know if there is a criminal investigation. Two things ought to have been triggered following this tragedy. (Occupational Safety and Health) authorities should have taken control of the site in exercise of their statutory powers, and the Commissioner of Police ought to have taken immediate steps to preserve evidence and potential evidence, having regard to the fact that four lives were lost,” he said.

Ramdeen said LMCS would also be responding to Minister Stuart Young’s appointment of a probe committee, its terms of reference and powers “and whether any confidence can be had in a report that has been put together by a group of persons appointed by a government through the Ministry of Energy, where Paria is 100 per cent State owned”.

In a release issued through Ramdeen, LMCS stated that since the deaths, it has been “concentrating its efforts on comforting the families who lost their loved ones and providing support to them during this period of unimaginable grief. The impact of this incident on our LMCS staff has been devastating”.

The Marabella-based company said it has made available to all members of the deceased families, as well as (survivor Christopher) Boodram, “professional services to address their state of mind and the anguish that has been visited upon them as a result of this incident. These services have also been made available to all of our employees. LMCS has undertaken to cover the burial costs for Yusuf Henry, Fyzal Kurban and Rishi Nagassar”.

LMCS stated those who were responsible for the tragedy that led to the death of its employees and the serious injuries to Boodram must be held accountable for their actions or lack thereof.

“The public interest requires no less. The families who lost their loved ones deserve no less. LMCS will be satisfied with no less,” the company said.

International experts

The company said in addition to the pathologists report, it was gathering evidence in order to provide international experts who are being retained “to determine the cause of this national disaster and to ascertain who was responsible for the deaths of our employees or the decisions that led to their deaths”.

LMCS said from the moment it learned of the incident, “our singular aim was the rescue of our employees. We not only had the manpower and personnel to carry out their rescue, but we provided Paria with the methodology to execute the rescue. At all material times we were prevented from executing this rescue by Paria and the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard. We were not given the chance to save the lives of our employees”.

The effect of those decisions, said LMCS, “prevented us from attempting to rescue our employees and those who made those decisions must be held accountable for them and must justify those decisions, not only to the families, but to the public and to the authorities that are responsible for the enforcement of the law… We must demand that those who are responsible for the deaths of Yusuf, Fyzal, Rishi and Kazim Jr are held to account for their inactions and actions”.