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Oct 23, 2017

Coast Guard Rescues Guats Stranded on Reef; Extent of Damage to be Determined

Guatemalan vessel ‘AMADOR’ ran aground Belize’s Reef on Saturday night.  There were ten occupants on board including Carlos Pena – a well-known Guatemalan artist – who put out an SOS message on Facebook asking for coastguard or police to rescue them. The sixty-foot pleasure yacht captained by Gustavo Aleojos Andres Jansa was in the southern waters of Belize when one of its engines failed and caused the vessel to lost power and to run aground shortly after. There were no reported injuries, but local authorities are assessing to see if there there’s any damage to the reef. The Belize Coast Guard was called out to the area but when they arrived the group had gotten help from two other boats. We spoke via phone with Commander Elton Bennett of the Belize Coast Guard.

 

On the Phone: Commander Elton Bennett, Vice-Commandant, BCG

“We received the information sometime around seven-forty-two p.m. on the twenty-first of October from the captain of the vessel that he had ran aground somewhere near Carrie Bow Caye. This is somewhere twelve miles southeast of Dangriga. Yes, he had Guatemalan nationals onboard. There were eight passengers and the two crew members totaling ten members on board. We received that information and we dispatched the patrol that was in the area to go and see how we can assist the persons that were in distress. Once our patrol arrived on the scene, they noticed that there were two other that took out the vessel from off the reef; therefore, we were just there to ensure they were all safe on board the vessel. The vessel from there went off to a resort in the south water caye area where they spent the night.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, they were coming to Belize or where was their destination?”

 

On the Phone: Commander Elton Bennett

“From the documents that we checked, they had checked in with immigration at San Pedro which was the last port of call and they were heading south towards the Placencia area passing through south water caye and that is when the vessel ran aground. It seems that the intended travel was to navigate through Belizean waters.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Commander Bennett…was the DOE or any of the agencies called in to see if there was any damage done to the reef?”

 

On the Phone: Commander Elton Bennett

“Yes. As part of the marine casualty investigation, once a vessel runs aground the interested parties which would be the Belize Coast Guard, Ports Authority, Fisheries Department and Department of Environment form a task force that goes out on the scene to conduct a more detailed assessment. They are still conducting dives – the DOE personnel are out there on the ground right now to see the impact of the damage. So, yes, the task force was formed and investigations still ongoing as we speak.  The captain had reported that he lost power due to one of his engine failure and that is what caused the vessel to run aground on the reef. They are still in Belize. We do not consider it a major marine casualty as it had run aground on a shoal that was easily removed. We think it was probably a good thing that the vessel was removed in due time rather than have it there for a prolonged period of time that would cause sustained damages to the reef. So, it turned out well that the vessel was removed from off the reef. So, they are still in Belize and we are communicating with those personnel.”

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