In Pictures: Barbuda boat fire survivors arrive

Barbuda boat accident survivors l-r Percel Griffin, Tyrone “Nance” Joseph, and Ishmael “Ish” Harris (Photos by Justé Zachariah)

The Coast Guard says the search is continuing for the fourth man from the missing MV Concorde after three survivors were found.

Lieutenant Commander Auden Nicholas says the survivors reported that Ivan “Powerline” Joseph of Antigua is badly injured.

“We are continuing the search for the forth man until such time that we deem it fit to call it off, we were told that he was badly injured …”

Those found; Ishmael Harris, Tyrone Joseph and Percel Griffin (see photos here) were picked up about 23 miles North-West of St. John’s by a passing sail boat heading from Antigua to St Maarten. They had drifted about 18 miles in a small dinghy.

Nicholas said the three men reported the boat had exploded….

“There were two who were able to speak those were the two that were dehydrated and they were able to give us a synopsis as to what transpired at sea on their vessel. I am not in a position at the moment to disclose all the details except to confirm that according to them there was in fact an explosion and as a result of that the vessel was destroyed and they had to seek refuge in the dinghy.”

The Coast Guard Commander says there are fewer vessels now involved in the search for Ivan Joseph but efforts are continuing…

We are going to continue for the rest of the day for sure as long as daylight is available and then we will make a decision at the end of the day. Tonight we will go on to dusk, the coastguard for sure is still actively searching as to the other persons as far as we are aware most have withdrawn.

Nicholas also praised the efforts of a number of fishermen and others who sacrificed to help with the search…

“I want to publicly thank ABSAR, I want to publicly thank the fisher folks who took time out last night all night to assist the coast guard in the search. These are fisherfolks who were actually out fishing who stopped what they were doing and joined the search and that we are grateful for…”

A comprehensive search had been underway off Barbuda since yesterday afternoon involving Caribbean helicopters, a plane from Guadeloupe, a Dutch frigate, ABSAR and several fishermen.

The three men who were found are now recovering from injuries at Mount Saint John’s Medical Center. One man suffered burns to the side of his face and a serious chest injury.

The MV Concorde on which they were travelling is one of the main cargo vessels which operates between Barbuda and Antigua

National Security Minister Dr. Errol Cort says a review of how goods are transported to Barbuda is in order.

“You know we would certainly would need to review a number of things in terms of how we transport cargo between Antigua and Barbuda in particular, we would want to review the safety and seaworthiness of the vessels that travel between Antigua and Barbuda we would also like to review how we pack the cargo to insure we are not exposing the persons transporting the cargo to any danger.”

Dr. Cort says while the coast guard responded quickly Barbuda needs its own facility.

“I want to use the occasion to say that going forward utmost emphasis will be placed on ensuring we have a coastguard facility on Barbuda so that we will be able to rapidly respond to any eventuality if and when it occurs.”

Barbuda representative Trevor Walker says an urgent replacement vessel is needed to bring goods to the island.

I’m going to make a very strong appeal to West Indies Oil Company to ensure that the Barbudans canisters are replenished so that the Barbudans can have proper cooking facilities in good time. I am also calling on the Prime minister and the government to ensure that whatever has to be put in place to have food especially transported to the island is done as a matter or priority because clearly this was a main cargo boat that would have done business in Barbuda on that level.”

BACKGROUND

Some of the men missing after an apparent explosion on their vessel off Barbuda yesterday, have been found alive.

Confirmation comes from Jonathan Cornelius, Director of Antigua and Barbuda Search and Rescue (ABSAR.)

Listen to Cornelius’ interview with Observer Radio’s Rory Butler below.

Four men remained missing at sea last night after The Concorde, the 50 ft wooden cargo vessel  they were travelling on to Barbuda, apparently exploded.

Local coast guard and other search and rescue teams, including Caribbean Helicopters and a Dutch aircraft with special night vision technology, combed the area for the Barbudans but found only fragments, well placed sources said.

Police sources said the vessel belonged to Barbudan businessman Lindy Burton.  Aboard, were Captain Ivan “Powerline” Joseph of Antigua, Tyrone “Nance” Joseph of Barbuda (crew), Percel Griffin of Barbuda (crew) and Barbudan resident Ishmael Harris, who was a passenger.

Sources said propane tanks were among the items from the cargo boat that littered the sea some 10 miles off of Antigua.

It appears, one source told OBSERVER media, that the boat exploded around noon yesterday. This conclusion was drawn from the fact that the fragments were found not far from where it was last seen around mid-morning.