Chairman of Paria Fuel Trading Company Limited, Newman George, confirmed on Sunday night (27th February 2022) that the four (4) missing divers, Fyzal Kurban, Kazim Ali Jr, Rishi Nagassar and Yusuf Henry are dead.
The announcement was made at a Press Conference at the former Petrotrin Staff Club in Pointe-a-Pierre shortly after 8pm on Sunday. Also present at the Press Conference were General Manager Mushtaq Mohammed and Terminal Operations Manager Collin Piper.
Chairman George said, “The operation has now moved from rescue to recovery.” This was based on consultation among Paria, the Coast Guard, LMCS Limited (the divers’ employer), expert divers and other stakeholders, after it was determined the probability of the men's survival was low.
Expressing the company's condolences to the divers' families, George said, “This has not been an easy decision,” and added, “We did not take that decision [to announce the shift from rescue to recovery] unilaterally.”
A water displacement process will be used to gently move the divers' bodies along the pipeline “so they can be collected with dignity and respect” at Berth 6, where the incident happened, and returned to their families.
After saying the company had been doing its best to keep the families and the public informed about the efforts to find the missing divers, George said the news that they were dead was shared with relatives before the Press Conference started.
The time or times of death of the divers could not be determined.
While the recovery operation is ongoing, George said it would not be until Monday, when sufficient water pressure is built up inside the pipeline, to ease the bodies along. While he could not provide a timeframe for recovering the bodies, he reiterated it will be done in a respectful and dignified manner.
George and General Manager Mohammed said an investigating team will be assembled to determine the cause of the incident.
While admitting there were emergency divers on standby to help, Mohammed and Terminal Operations Manager Piper said the advice emerging from the consultation amongst the stakeholders at the time was that it was too risky to send divers in to find the missing men.
Mohammed and George declined to respond to claims from relatives and other people that the rescue response was too slow or that Paria was negligent or liable for the incident. George said the investigation will determine that.
Relatives who had been waiting in a car park outside Heritage Petroleum's administrative building in Pointe-a-Pierre since the incident, were shocked and saddened by the news that the divers were declared dead, and that efforts were now being made to recover their bodies.
The families were joined on Sunday by members of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ), Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) and First Wave Movement who picketed in front the main gate of the Heritage Petroleum’s administrative building.
They began their demonstration around 10am, shouting, “We want justice! We want answers.” Some of them held placards with these and other messages. Two (2) placards tragically read “Daddy when are you coming home?” and “Save our fathers.”
This is a developing story - refresh this page for updates.
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