Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Boat accident in Isla Mujeres leaves 4 dead and 5 missing

At least four people, including one minor, have died in an accident on an overloaded tourist boat traveling between Isla Mujeres and Puerto Juárez, Cancún.

The accident occurred on Monday night, when the catamaran Diosa del Mar was returning to Puerto Juárez after an afternoon trip to the Perla Negra restaurant bar on Isla Mujeres.

Local authorities’ delay in responding to the Diosa del Mar’s distress signal meant that tourism service providers were the first to reach the vessel. (Cuartoscuro.com)

According to local authorities who spoke to the newspaper El Universal, the 26-foot boat had capacity for 16 people but was carrying 19, including 14 adult tourists, one baby, two minors, the captain and a crew member.

The boat embarked on the return journey from Isla Mujeres at around 6:30 p.m., despite rough weather. Local meteorological reports recorded winds up to 50 kilometers per hour and waves up to 3 meters high.

The cause of the accident is still unconfirmed, but the boat is believed to have been capsized by a wave from a passing ship. It sent out a distress signal to local port and naval authorities, but their delayed response meant that tourism service providers from Isla Mujeres were the first to reach the stricken vessel.

As of Monday night, authorities had confirmed four people dead, including two women and a 10-year-old boy. Search operations continued for five passengers still missing at sea.

Several rescued passengers were transferred to hospital on Isla Mujeres, including some with serious injuries, at least one requiring life support and others suffering nervous breakdowns.

The remaining passengers were returned to Isla Mujeres. The captain, identified as Ramón C. M., was arrested for questioning on his role in the incident.

Authorities highlighted that the Perla Negra restaurant operates irregularly as a passenger dock and therefore lacks official personnel to check that vessels do not exceed capacity, passengers wear life jackets and captain and crew are fit to sail.

Officials from the Integral Port Administration of Quintana Roo (Apiqroo) also failed to prevent the boat departing from Puerto Juárez, despite it being over capacity. Local authorities have previously complained to the Apiqroo Operating Committee about a lack of maritime patrols to monitor boating operations.

In addition, the Port Captains of both Puerto Juárez and Isla Mujeres are being questioned for their failure to respond to the boat’s original distress calls, with some demanding that they be fired from their posts.

With reports from El Universal and La Jornada Maya

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