Last Updated on Monday, 14 August 2023, 22:30 by Denis Chabrol
Three children drowned when the boat they were travelling in struck a rock and capsized in the vicinity of Piri-Piri, upper Essequibo, the Guyana Police Force said.
Those who perished were identified by police as 12-year-old Linden Joseph, a student of Aishalton Secondary School and resident of Karaudar Village, South Rupununi; three-year old Norsha Ayaw and 11-month-old Newton Ayaw both of Masakenari Village.
“The bodies of the children were later recovered floating in the area. Their faces were partially eaten by piranhas. The bodies were then buried at Masakenari Village, to be exhumed at a later date,” police said.
The incident occurred at about 3 AM on August 12, 2023.
Investigators were informed that District Development Officer for Masakenari, 42-year-old Donny Charlie and the three victims were among seven other passengers in a 35-foot-long wooden boat that was being propelled by a 30-horsepower outboard engine.
Also in the vessel were 72 sacks of cement and three gasoline drums.
Police said the vessel was heading from Parabara Village to Masakenari Village when tragedy struck.
The boat captain, 27-year-old Joseph Ayaw told police that the vessel hit a rock and the boat capsized, “flinging all the passengers and contents into the river.”
Police said the captain and six other passengers, managed to swim to a riverbank but the three children drowned.
The captain is the father of two of the victims, Norsha and Newton Ayaw, while Linda Joseph’s parents were also on the boat at the time.”
Meanwhile, government’s Department of Public Information reported that Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai and her team journeyed to Masakenari Village, Deep South Rupununi, Region Nine to offer condolences and comfort to grieving families following a tragic accident that claimed the lives of three children in the Essequibo River.
“For us as a government, we want you to know that our government is with you. You’re not alone, we’re here to grieve with you,” she said while engaging families and residents on Monday.
She also offered words of encouragement to the families and reiterated the government’s support during this difficult period in their lives.
“Our government grieves and sympathises with you as a family and I know that you have the support of your village,” Minister Sukhai added.
In addition to losing three lives, Toshao Paul Chekema said the village lost 72 sacks of cement, as well as a boat and engine. To this end, Minister Sukhai committed to offer assistance in replacing the items, following approval by the Cabinet.