3 bodies found in cargo vessel

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: A coast guard interceptor vessel and larger patrol boat. Photo by Sureash Cholai

THE St Vincent-registered cargo vessel MV Fair Chance has been re-floated with the police and coast guard boarding it via a hole cut in its deck on Easter Monday and finding three bodies inside – 16 days after it first overturned in rough seas.

A press release on Monday evening, from the Coast Guard, said that after the vessel capsized on April 2, with two crew members being rescued, the Coast Guard made efforts to tow it.

This was unsuccessful owing to its size and weight. At the time, five of the crew members were unaccounted for.

The vessel slowly drifted into Venezuelan waters and after the Guardia Nacional gave permission, the Coast Guard and a commercial tug entered sovereign waters of that country and towed the vessel back into Trinidad waters. It arrived in Chaguaramas on April 5, but later sank to the seabed.

Efforts were made by the Coast Guard and commercial divers to get into the sunken vessel but this failed.

On April 7, while trying to remove cargo and debris piece by piece, the body of one person was found and retrieved from the vessel.

A commercial salvage company was contracted to assist in cutting a hole in the deck of the vessel to access its contents. A hole was cut into the deck but neither Coast Guard divers nor commercial divers could enter the boat.

The salvage company then re-floated the vessel, an exercise which was completed on Easter Sunday. On Monday, members of the Coast Guard accompanied by police officers, entered the vessel and found three bodies which were removed to the Forensic Science Centre in St James.

The release said one person still remains unaccounted for and the Coast Guard said searches for this individual will continue at sea. Once proper identification is made, autopsies will be carried out in order to ascertain cause of death.