Boat with decomposed bodies in Nicaragua’s waters not same vessel sighted off Guyana – Benn

Home Affairs Minister
Robeson Benn

When Nicaraguan authorities made an announcement on Tuesday that the bodies of six migrants were found drifting in a small boat off their coast, there was speculation that this was the very boat sighted in Guyana’s waters some weeks ago, but this has turned out not to be the case.
In an interview with Guyana Times, Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn confirmed that the boat Nicaragua found was not the same one that was sighted off the coast of Guyana and subsequently disappeared.
“I don’t know if it passed through Guyana’s waters at some time, but it’s not the same boat. It’s almost similar construction, a bit different, but it’s not the same boat. You (have to consider) the currents to explain why a boat which could lose its propulsion off West Africa drift all the way over here,” Minister Benn said.
Minister Benn noted that it was well-documented historical fact that westerly currents and winds were able to transport ships much larger than the one found off the coast of Nicaragua from the African coast.
“Interestingly, one of the men in the boat had a passport from Mauritania (a north-western African country). And remember, if boats lose their engines on the west African coast, they will drift south and then when they hit the north equatorial current they will drift west,” he explained.
The Nicaraguan Interior Ministry had said that a Republic of Guinea passport belonging to a 31-year-old man was found on one of the bodies. The passport, according to reports, had no Nicaraguan entry stamp in it.
According to reports, the boat was found drifting about a mile (1 1/2 kilometres) out to sea near Cayo Las Palomas. Reports indicated that the corpses were all too badly decomposed for immediate identification.
However, the Ministry had said that an initial examination of the bodies had indicated that they all likely died of dehydration or heatstroke, and that time of death was approximately a month ago.
On February 15, a boat that was suspected to have some 10 decomposed bodies was sighted drifting some 112 nautical miles off Guyana’s coast. However, attempts to retrieve the boat were hampered by bad weather and the boat subsequently disappeared, either drifting further out to sea or possibly being submerged owing to inclement weather conditions.
At a press conference following the boat’s disappearance, Public Works Minister Juan Edghill had told the media that no boat has been reported missing in Guyana and that he had made contact with the authorities in Suriname to inquire if they had any reports of a missing vessel and crew, but there have been no reports of a missing boat or crew.
Meanwhile, Minister Benn had said at the press conference that when or if authorities retrieve the vessel, the Guyana Police Force (GPF) will take charge in investigating to determine the origin of the victims and the circumstances surrounding the situation.