Enquiry chairman remembers dead divers with compassion, sorrow

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The five divers employed by a private company hired by Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd to do maintenance work on a 30-inch pipeline in one of the last photos taken at Pointe-a-Pierre on February 25. From left are Christopher Boodram, who survived,
Kazim Ali, Yuseph Henry, Rishi Nagassar and Fyzal Kurban.

A moment of silence was observed for the four divers who died in the Paria tragedy at the formal opening of the commission of enquiry (CoE) on Wednesday.

Commission chairman Jerome Lynch, QC, said it was right that they should be remembered with sorrow and compassion.

“Not just them, but their families and friends who grieve for them. I would ask you to please join with me and observe a minute of silence as a mark of respect for those men who have died and for those whose lives have been changed forever,” the Jamaican jurist asked those in attendance.

On behalf of himself and fellow commissioner subsea specialist Gregory Wilson, he expressed “our heartfelt sadness and suffering and despair caused by this loss of life.

“We are acutely aware these men were fathers and sons, brothers and cousins, friends and colleagues and breadwinners and confidants who provided joy to many.”

While noting that the enquiry cannot bring back Fyzal Kurban, Rishi Nagassar, Kazim Ali Jr and Yusuf Henry, he said it “can and it will provide answers to the inevitable questions of how a tragedy of this kind could occur in today’s society.”

Lynch said he was shocked.

“Such an incident in a modern country, used to dealing with the extraction of oil and gas and the maintenance of machinery necessary to effect such extraction, is both surprising and tragic in the 21st century.”

He noted that “194 days ago, four men died when something happened that caused them to be sucked into a 30-inch pipeline stretching across the seabed from berth six to berth five.

“The facts are undoubtedly tragic,” he said pledging to get to the truth, leaving no stone unturned to get there.

Lynch has set hearings for November 21-25, December 5-8, December 12-15, and as a contingency, January 9-13, 2023, although he said hopefully that January hearing would not be necessary.

He said a draft report should be completed by Easter.