– 20 passengers rescued
– elderly survivor recounts harrowing tale
A Venezuelan passenger boat, heading to Charity on the Pomeroon with 22 persons on board, caught afire and exploded off the Waini Coast on Sunday morning.
The boat , which departed the Bolivarian Republic around 0430hrs on Sunday , caught afire as it headed for Charity on the Essequibo Coast.
Medical staff at the Mabaruma Regional Hospital reported on Sunday that 20 persons , including an elderly woman who was first rushed there for treatment, have been accounted for. Two persons died following the incident.
On board the vessel was 73-year -old Phylis Archer and her husband ; the woman was rushed to the Mabaruma Hospital earlier on Sunday.
Archer, who was being prepared to be air-dashed to the city for further treatment, told the Guyana Chronicle from Mabaruma that the boat departed around 04:30 hrs on Sunday and three hours later, she heard an explosion.”The sun was hot and all I noticed was a ball of fire ,” she said.
She said the choppy waters prevented her from grabbing her husband whom she noted is blind.
Archer said that after the boat caught afire , the engines exploded and she held onto the sinking vessel.
She said she saw others trying to swim to shore which was in the distance.The elderly woman said she had already gave up when she heard shouting and was taken into a rescue boat.She said she suffered severe burns to her body including her hands, torso and face.
Archer, who was headed to a relative at Petshop Street in Parika, East Bank Essequibo, said she made the trip on several occasions and according to her, she was returning permanently with her husband, Carlos Archer and a friend , Sabrina Vermpon.
Officials at the Mabaruma hospital were making arrangements to ferry the injured woman to the city.
Rescuers combed the area off the Waini for survivors.