DOE to evaluate damages after catamaran runs aground on the reef

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

The Department of Environment (DOE) is currently in the process of removing a 32-foot catamaran vessel which ran into the reef on Friday, September 13th with eight passengers on board. No one was injured, and the eight passengers, including the captain, were safely rescued. The vessel remained on the reef over the weekend in an area known as Coral Gardens between Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye. Once the boat is removed, the DOE will conduct an assessment to determine the extent of damages to the reef and if anyone will be held liable for the incident.

DOE senior officer Kenrick Gordon is on Ambergris Caye overseeing the investigation and stated that they would not conduct an official assessment until they remove the vessel. Gordon stated that from initial observations, it appears that the reef has sustained damage. They hope to get the catamaran off the sensitive area as soon as possible, as the longer it stays sitting on the coral formation, the more damages can occur. According to Gordon, they have been trying to remove the boat for the past three days with no luck. At this moment, additional equipment is expected to come from Belize City to assist in the safe removal of the catamaran.

The San Pedro Sun spoke with Commissioner of the Belize Port Authority, Merlene Martinez on the matter. Martinez stated that they are working together with DOE and are doing their investigation regarding the incident. Some of the areas they are focusing on are if there are issues with the vessel and if human error was responsible for the accident. According to her, if someone is held responsible, they can face charges for damages to the reef in a court of law. The Commissioner expects some development to take place sometime during this week.

The San Pedro Sun will have more on this developing story.

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