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Dec 20, 2019

Early Morning Distress Call, 5 Fishermen Rescued at Sea

Five persons were successfully returned to shore at the Coast Guard Headquarters this afternoon.  The group, including a little boy, was stranded at sea when the vessel they were out fishing in began taking in water and capsized somewhere between Water Caye and Goff‘s Caye.  It was a traumatic experience, drifting out at sea in the dead of night.  A distress call to the coast guard, led to the location of the boaters sometime thereafter during a search and rescue operation.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano was at the coastguard pier when they were brought in.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The emotional reunion of several families with their loved ones at midday, following a night of intense fear that five persons, including a ten-year-old minor, were lost at sea somewhere off the coast of Belize City, was a collective sigh of relief for everyone involved in an overnight search and rescue effort.


Martin Pariente

Martin Pariente, Uncle of Rescued Fisherman

“It’s not a nice feeling, you know, losing someone very dear to you, as close as my nephew is, you know.  We always here of people getting lost at sea or getting killed and stuff.  It doesn’t hit you that hard because of the situation Belize is in right now, but knowing that your nephew was not involved, he was just out fishing and then heard that he’s gone missing and looking at my mom and looking at my sister which is his mom, you know.  The devastation they were going through, it’s very, very difficult.”


On Thursday, a group of five set out to sea on a fishing trip, including Christopher Pariente, Christopher Zheng, boat captain Michael Welch Jr., otherwise known as Fire, his ten-year-old son and other individual known only as Chabo.  It is not clear what they encountered at sea but a distress call was placed to the Belize Coast Guard in the wee early hours of this morning.


Roque Canul

Lt. Roque Canul, Operations Officer, Belize Coast Guard

“Around 2:30 this morning we received a call, a distress call whereby we were informed that a boat had experienced distress out at sea in the area of Water Caye and Goff’s Caye and the information was that the boat was taking in water.  We immediately deployed our standby crew to the area and from there on we commenced searches.”


Audberto Pariente and his siblings received the troubling phone call around three a.m. and immediately mobilized a search party to head out to the location where they were last located.


Audberto Pariente

Audberto Pariente, Uncle of Rescued Fisherman

“We got the message like three o’clock this morning and since then we haven’t slept and we have been busy coordinating with the coast guard and the BDF Defenders to do the search and rescue for us and the Coast Guard were updating us as they go along and we had also deployed, some friends had deployed some boats to look in the Goff’s Caye and Water Caye area, as that was the last message that we got that there were located at three o’clock in the morning.”


A concerted effort by the Belize Coast Guard, the Belize Defense Force Air Wing and a civilian search party resulted in the successful rescue of all five boaters.  Their conditions at the point of discovery are described by Lieutenant Roque Canul.


Lt. Roque Canul

“They’re very weak, they seemed dehydrated and you are seeing the weather.  I must imagine that they’re very, very cold at this point in time.  So that’s their health condition at this point in time.”


Isani Cayetano

“Can you give us some operational details as to how this search and rescue party set out?”


Lt. Roque Canul

“The initial deployment was our standby crew who, in any case, would be the first search and rescue unit that would be deployed in a case like this.  Immediately after that we looked for other avenues, in this case I got in contact with the Belize Port Authority to send, and I requested for them to send out a notice to mariners because based on the information we received, we were looking at people floating out there.”


But where exactly were the fishermen off to and how did they end up adrift elsewhere?  It’s a question that Martin Pariente, a seasoned boatman, is yet to have answered.


Martin Pariente

“They were supposed to be going right across there to the deep water port to go and fish, you know, how they ended up in that area where they were found is kinda hard, puzzling, you know, because, like I said, we heard they were going there.  Until I speak to my nephew how is it that they got out there then I would be of a better understanding to then answer that question.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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