PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, Apr 26, 2019 (CMC) – The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard said, yesterday, it was engaged in a search and rescue mission, after a Venezuelan vessel sank on its way to Trinidad and Tobago, with at least 25 people on board.
The Coast Guard said that it had received a report, at 11.40 pm (local time), Wednesday, indicating that a pirogue, named B/P JHONNALY JOSE, with registration number ARSI-CA-0067, had left Venezuela, on Tuesday, and was reported to have overturned, whilst at sea.
The Coast Guard, in a statement, said that 25 people were on board the vessel, with its last known position being two nautical miles (3.7 km) east of Patos Island, an island in the north-western Gulf of Paria and a part of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
“Additionally, we have been informed that a total of four persons have been rescued and 21 persons are currently still unaccounted for,” the statement added.
The Coast Guard said that the island is located, within the “Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre of Venezuela” and, as such, it is their responsibility to coordinate search and rescue operations, within that geographic area.
“However, the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard has been engaged and, in accordance with the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard’s roles and responsibilities with regard to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR), as well as our diplomatic links with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard assets have already been actioned to aid in the search and rescue operation, and further vessel deployments will be coordinated, once required,” the statement explained.
The statement added that the Coast Guard would continue to work, “closely”, with its Venezuelan counterparts, to ensure an effective search and rescue operation.
Yesterday, the Trinidad Express newspaper said that the vessel, with the illegal immigrants, including two children, may have drowned, after their boat overturned, while undertaking the three-and-a-half-hour journey.
The newspaper quoted a Venezuelan woman, residing, here, as saying that her sister, who was on board the vessel, was coming here, to help her.
“My sister was coming to Trinidad to help me. It is very bad in Venezuela. There is no food, no hospital and people are becoming desperate,” she told the Trinidad Express newspapers.
“My sister contacted me, on Tuesday, and said she was leaving. I understand the survivors contacted the other relatives and told them that the boat overturned and some people were missing,” the woman related.
Several Venezuelan nationals have come to Trinidad and Tobago to escape the economic and political situation in the South American country, where the United States is leading an offensive to remove President Nicolas Maduro from office.
The Trinidad and Tobago government said it had agreed to open a two-week registration for Venezuelans, to allow them an initial stay of six months, in which they can also work in the twin-island republic.
Venezuelans, who arrive, here, legally or illegally, will benefit from the process, and National Security Minister, Stuart Young, said the Venezuelans would undergo medical examinations, and at the end of the six months, will have their situations evaluated, before another six-month period becomes available to them.