By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
SEARCH and rescue efforts have been suspended for the five people who were onboard a vessel that left Abaco and capsized off West End, Grand Bahama, last Thursday.
A Bahamian, who was reportedly captaining the vessel, is believed to be among the missing.
The Royal Bahamas Defence Force Search and Rescue Unit, the Royal Bahamas Police Marine Division, BASRA, United States Air Force and United States Coast Guard were involved in the search operation.
Last Friday, nine Haitian migrants, including a six-month-old baby, were rescued from waters near Memory Rock. The bodies of two migrants – an adult female and juvenile male – were also recovered from inside the capsized vessel.
The survivors were taken to Police Marine Base in Lucaya where their conditions were assessed by a doctor and nurses of the Disease Surveillance Unit of the Public Hospital’s Authority.
According to RBDF officials, a massive search for the unaccounted for individuals was conducted on Friday and Saturday before the search was called off on Sunday afternoon.
The survivors told authorities that the 24ft white vessel, with two outboard Mercury engines, left Crown Haven, Abaco, at about 9pm on Thursday for Florida.
Commander William Sturrup, Search and Rescue Coordinator, said the decision to call off the search is always a difficult one and is made after careful consideration of all of the facts surrounding the case.
He said the suspension of the search is in keeping with the probability of finding survivors without life vests in the prevailing conditions.
“Deepest sympathies are offered to the friends and families of those involved during this difficult time,” he said.
“The Royal Bahamas Defence Force is strongly urging people to refrain from dangerous voyages at sea. When embarking on a voyage, vessels are to be seaworthy, weather conditions are to be monitored and warnings adhered to and the proper safety precautions such as appropriate life vests, life rafts, firefighting equipment, as well as distress signals, flares, and EPIRBs are to be readily available on the vessel. These safeguards are to be strictly observed to when travelling by sea to mitigate such tragic loss.”