Venezuelan coast guard joins search for missing fishermen

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: A Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard vessel.

THE Venezuelan Coast Guard has joined the search for the four fishermen who were last seen at the Guayaguayare Port on January 31.

Mayaro MP Rushton Paray told the Newsday he has been in contact with Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne who also confirmed that he is in regular contact with the TT embassy in Caracas to provide any kind of assistance in finding the missing men.

Captain Vallence Rambharat of the Hunters Search and Rescue team which has been engaged in the search, also confirmed on Friday that the four, Heeralal Cooblal, Rishi Khemchan, Andy George and George Jotis, may be stranded in a desolate mangrove on the Venezuelan coast.

Rambharat said he met with the families of the missing men as well as with fisherfolks from the area on Thursday night, and they were able to confirm that the men were seen fishing in an area they are accustomed fishing in, as late as Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.

The boat in which the men left – Benom 2 TFN 5906 – was found in the Cedros area on February 5. No one was on board.

Rambharat said this in keeping with the current that flows between Guyaguyare and Venezuela. He said the fact that no floatation devices were found in the water when the boat was discovered, gives hope that the men may have drifted to a mangrove across the border.

He said there are no inhabitants, lights or houses in that area.

“Just miles and miles of mangrove. It is the only possible place they can be. We need to refocus and pay attention to this area where the boat was last seen and the mangrove.”

He said the Hunters team cannot continue the search across the maritime border unless accompanied by the air and coast guard. He said the team is helping to coordinate the rescue effort.

Cooblal’s eldest son, Anil Cooblal told the Newsday late Friday, “Something is not adding up.

“It’s either my father or the others are stranded somewhere waiting to be rescued, or they have been kidnapped.”

“I believe they are still alive, because after so many days of so many intense search, not a bit of evidence has been found to say they died.”

He said where the boat was found, if they were on board they would have gone down in the front of the vessel.

“If they did go down, they would have floated up already somewhere in Trinmar. Given the kind of traffic in that area, we would have found them already.”