The body of one person has been recovered while another is missing and fear dead after a speedboat, carrying nearly two dozen passengers, exploded on Sunday morning off the Waini Coast.
The incident occurred sometime after 07:00h about 10 miles off the Waini River mouth in Region One (Barima-Waini).
Guyana Times understands that the boat was ferrying approximately 21 passengers from neighbouring Venezuela to Charity on the Essequibo Coast when the incident occurred. Both Guyanese and Venezuelans were on board the vessel at the time.
Divisional Commander Kevin Adonis confirmed the tragic incident, but could not divulge further details. He told this publication on two occasions, “The ranks are still out there.”
Nevertheless, Regional Chairman Brentnol Ashley told this newspaper that 19 persons on board the vessel have been rescued while one body was discovered. The deceased, he stated, is said to be a Venezuelan.
Meanwhile, one of the survivors – an elderly Venezuelan woman— was severely burnt during the explosion and was rushed to the Mabaruma District Hospital.
Up to late Sunday evening, arrangements were being made to have her medevacked to the city for further treatment at the Georgetown Public Hospital.
According to reports, the two outboard engines backfired, causing a fire. This created panic among the passengers.
As the flames quickly spread throughout the vessel, the passengers were forced to jump into the water. Some attempted to swim to the shore, which was in sight, while others were picked up by rescuers.
The elderly woman, who is said to be in her 70s, had held onto the burning vessel as it sank; hence, she sustained first-degree burns. An investigation was immediately launched into the explosion.