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Sunken Venezuelan cargo vessel reported to some authorities, rescued crew left Guyana without contacting police

The wreckage of a vessel which sank last week off the Essequibo Coast reportedly laden with rice for Venezuela. (Stabroek News photo)

The Venezuelan cargo vessel, which sank off the Essequibo Coast, arrived here and reported to customs and immigration authorities but never reported their presence in Guyanese waters to maritime authorities.

Divisional Commander, Superintendent K. Pareshram said the five Venezuelan crew members, who were rescued by Guyanese fishermen, left Guyana through Pomeroon for their home country. “We were not able to question any of them or get any statement from them,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.

With regards to whether the MV Dona Marta was in Guyana’s waters legally, well-placed sources at the Maritime Administration (MARAD) said the records show that the vessel did not inform maritime authorities of its arrival and departure in clear violation of maritime regulations.

Authorities said maritime officials only learnt of the presence of the vessel in Guyana’s waters when they received a radio communication distress call Thursday, February 9, 2017. However, the Divisional Police Commander says the vessel checked in with customs and immigration on arrival on February 28, 2017.

Sources said the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Coast Guard immediately dispatched a patrol to the area., but when they arrived at the scene no one was aboard. “It is one of the cases of non-compliance,” a maritime official told Demerara Waves Online News.

The vessel sank in the Atlantic Sea off the Essequibo Coast village of Devonshire Castle with more rice destined for Venezuela.

One of the shippers, Wazeer Hussain confirmed to Demerara Waves Online News that the vessel was carrying 100 tons of rice for him to the Spanish-speaking country.