HELGA capsizes - 8 rescued, 3 missing

Sometime around 11:10pm on Saturday, March 19th, 2011, the Belize National Coast Guard (BNCG) received a distress call from the vessel HELGA. According to reports from the BNCG, they received a message via channel 16, wherein the captain of the vessel indicated that they were experiencing difficulty, specifying their co-ordinates as 12-20 on the British Honduras Navigational map. These co-ordinates placed the vessel some three miles east of Caye Caulker village. Upon receiving the message, a vessel stationed on Ambergris Caye was dispatched by BNCG. Reports are that within an hour of the distress call, however, the 74 meter vessel had sunk. The HELGA was reportedly transporting a cargo of salt from Mexico en route to Honduras.

< Within an hour of the search and rescue mission, at about 1:00 AM, four of the men onboard the vessel were found floating in an emergency inflatable raft (EIR) some two nautical miles from the southernmost point of the Caye Caulker Channel. Continued search and rescue efforts led to the rescue of four more men approximately 1˝ nautical miles from the southernmost point of the Caye Caulker Channel sometime around 8:00 AM on Sunday. All eight survivors were transported to Caye Caulker Village where they received medical attention. All the survivors were found to be in good health. They were later accompanied by the Cuban Ambassador en route to Belize City.

Reports are that a total of 11 crew members were onboard the vessel, however as of press time, only eight were accounted for, namely: 47 year old Iraelio Mengana Garcia, 47 year old Armando Garnado Martinez, 37 year old Antonio Perez Sadez, 49 year old Humberto Iglesias Hernandez, 43 year old Alfredo Porta Martinez, 46 year old Jose Consta Nalia, 38 year old Jorge Herrera Aldana and 39 year old Joaquin Ruiz De Zarate Arribas. Still missing are Cuban Nationals Captain Arturo Edreira Cuza and crew members Nelson Perez Ardao and Alexis Gonzalez.

San Pedro Sun