Coast Guard denies claims by families of missing Cedros men

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Five Cedros fishermen have been reported missing. –

The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG) has denied claims made by the families of five fishermen who have been missing at sea since February 24, when they left Fullarton Beach.

A media statement on February 29 from TTCG’s public relations officer Lt Khadija Lamy said the organisation was aware of reports concerning missing men aboard the pirogue Amanda.

But she said families had not directly contacted the TTCG’s Maritime Operations Co-ordinating Centre (MOCC).

“Therefore, reports circulating in the media indicating that the families contacted the TTCG and were told that the Coast Guard boats were not working are inaccurate,” the statement said.

But relatives maintained that they alerted Coast Guard officers in Cedros on Sunday about the men’s disappearance, and were told no vessel was available.

The statement said the Coast Guard had contacted Venezuelan authorities for help in finding the missing vessel and the men, and was awaiting further information.

It added, “The TTCG remains committed to the safety and security of all our mariners and is prepared to assist in any way possible. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide updates as they become available.”

On Friday, the search resumed for captain Davanand Seepaul, his father David Seepaul, 60, and three others: Shiva Seepersad, 20, Jeremiah Pasqual, 18, and Braiyer Alexander Gonzalez Ali, 21.

All except for Ali live in Fullarton Village. Ali, who has dual citizenship of TT and Venezuela, lives in Curepe.

Relatives told Newsday members of the NGO the Hunters Search and Rescue Team led by Vallence Rambharat were searching along with fishermen and other relatives.

The men were last seen when they left Cedros on February 24 around 4 pm on a 28-foot pirogue.

One relative said, “Nothing has changed from yesterday. People are out there searching, and still there are no signs of the men. If the Air Guard can get involved and help us, that would be great.”

Another said, “There is no word from the Venezuelan side on their whereabouts.

“We need all the help we can get to try to find these men.”