Fisherman drowns following boat explosion

A fisherman is now dead and a boat destroyed, following a mishap at Number 66 Village Corentyne, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) on Saturday.

Dead is Bhairo Persaud, 42, of Lot 138 Number 55 Village, Corentyne, Berbice. His body was recovered from the Number 66 Canal on Saturday afternoon.

Reports are Persaud, who was at the wharf, jumped overboard to assist the fishermen whose boat exploded.

Dead: Bhairo Persaud

Reports are that at about 11:45h, five fishermen were preparing to go out to sea in SK 1202 when one of them lit a stove to start cooking. As he ignited the match, there was an explosion and the boat went up in flames.

According to boat owner, Deonarine Harrypersaud, also called “Chona”, of Number 54 Village, Berbice, he was at the Number 66 Fishermen Co-op Complex as his workers were about to leave. He explained that he was called to the wharf and as he got closer, he noticed smoke.

The fisherman, who owns five boats, said everyone assisted and began cutting ropes to allow the boat on flame to be pushed away from the wharf and the other boats. The burning boat also contained five 45-gallon drums of gasoline.

As the boat was pushed further into the water by several persons risking their lives fully aware that at any moment the drums of gasoline could ignite and explode, an excavator operator working in the vicinity of the canal sprang into action and began digging mud and covering the gasoline drums. The swift action prevented any of the drums of gasoline from exploding. “We couldn’t take water to out the fire because of the gas. That Hymac man helps we a lot. The mud is what help we,” the boat owner said.

The boat SK 1202 which exploded

Harrypersaud said several boats were damaged, with losses estimated at $5 million for the boat and a further $330,000 in fuel.

It is believed that one of the gas drums may have overflowed, allowing several gallons of gasoline to run into the boat, ignited by the fumes when the match was struck.

According to reports, the men onboard plunged into the water and immediately began the operation of getting the boat away from the 30 other boats in the vicinity and also from the wharf.

Meanwhile, Persaud went into the water to offer his assistance. “He was drunk so we beg he to come out of the water, because everything done, the fire already out, but he say that he want to help. The water was pulling very hard and he couldnt help himself and he go down.”

Persaud had been the captain for a boat which was docked and had gone to the Fisherman’s Co-op for repairs.

Speaking with this publication, the dead man’s wife, Bebi Frieda Aaron, said Persaud left home at about 06:00h. She told Guyana Times at about 12:00h, she received news about the incident at the Number 66 Co-op Complex.

“When me come, dem ah look fuh am. But dem nah find am. So abee wait and a drunk man ah pass and he say me gon go an fine he. An the man go in the water and go right by the boat and hold he hand and bring he out the water an awe bathe am an carry he to the mortuary,” the 38-year-old widow said. The body was pulled from the water at about 14:00h.

In tears, the mother of four said for the past seven trips at sea, her husband returned home without money.

She explained that for several weeks she had no money and was hoping to see her husband in about a week. “The last time he go and spend 13 days and he come out last Thursday. Dem nah catch fish so he say he going look wan next boat.”

Meanwhile, Harrypersaud said the destroyed boat had no insurance. “Most of the owners don’t take out insurance because you don’t get the kind of business. Sometimes you go out and come back without anything,” he added.