The Coast Guard and the Southern Environmental Association (SEA) teamed up yesterday evening to rescue 4 Hondurans who were stranded at sea for almost an entire month. Tonight, they are at the Independence Polyclinic receiving treatment for severe dehydration.
The men say they were drifting in their boat for 24 days after it got damaged. At this time, it is not known where exactly they drifted from, but they were found near Spider Caye, which is about a two hours by boat from the Placencia peninsula.
The authorities might never have gotten to them in time if one of the men hadn't made the bold decision to swim across an entire channel before landing at Button Bay Caye. That's where they were able to contact the Coast Guard to rescue his mates still adrift at sea.
Today, the Coast Guard's Operations Officer told us about the distress call they got after the man nearly sacrificed his life, in the hopes of getting help:
Lt. Armando Cobb, Operations Officer - Coast Guard
"Yesterday about 8:30am in the morning we received a call from the police stating that they had received a call from a person, a caretaker at Buttonbay Bay, stating that a Hondurans had landed at his caye and he was claiming that he was being adrift for over 24 days at sea. Immediately upon receiving the information we deployed some of the assets that we have close by which were members of the twin caye patrol, we activated Glover's Reef patrol and even the Hunting Caye patrol. Upon them receiving the information they went and got more information that we found out that there were actually 4 persons being adrift for over 24 days and he had swim from the boat that was adrift and went inside the channel and landed at Buttonbay Caye. The remainders were still adrift, so we commenced our search and we asked our counterparts at sea who were closer by to the area where the incident had occurred to assist us and they also deployed some of their elements."
"So a search party began searching there about 9:30am yesterday. We searched all the areas in front of Placencia, south and northern parts of Placencia and even moving further towards Glover's Reef area and about 4:30pm yesterday we got another call from some fishermen in the area that they had seen 3 persons in the area of Spider Caye. I immediately call the sea patrol who were the closest by and they responded and ended up finding the persons at Spider Caye. They were immediately transported to the Independence Polyclinic where yesterday they were treated, because apparently they were severely dehydrated."
"I must applaud SEA, this is a perfect example of what partner agencies are capable of doing. Not only the coast guard could do such a rescue, but we called upon our SEA partner agency and they helped us and with the rapid respond of them and the coast guard we had a rapid identification of where they were and we found them safely and they are all safe now."
It is expected that the four men will be nursed back to full health and after that, they will be questioned about the ordeal which landed them in Belizean waters. The Honduran Navy has been alerted.