QCOSTARICA | The bodies of the recovered and the Costa Ricans who survived the shipwreck off Nicaragua’s coast on Saturday are back in Costa Rica.
The country is also holding a day of national mourning today Monday.
The small tourist boat carrying more than 30 people capsized off Little Corn Island in the Caribbean. Nicaraguan authorities said bad weather was to blame, detaining the captain and his assistant, investigating accident for alleged manslaughter.
But one survivor disputed that theory of bad weather the cause of the shipwreck. Conflicting reports indicate there were too many people on the boat, 32 people. Some say the number was actually 37.
The boat “Reyna del Caribe” (Queen of the Caribbean) – the majority being Costa Ricans, was also carrying two Americans, two Britons (a newly wed couple on their honeymoon), Brazilian and Nicaraguans – was travelling between Little Corn Island and Corn Island, some 70 kilometres (44 miles) from Bluefields, when it capsized.
Fernando Barahona, one shipwreck survivors, tells the story of “drifting” until another boat came to the rescue. “The captain of the other boat that helped us said he had a hunch (“corazonada” in Spanish) that something would happen and turned back,” Barahona told Costa Rica’s channel 7 television news.
“They rescued a 3 year-old little girl. Das was frantic because he couldn’t find his 10 year-old boy and wife; It told him they were fine, or he wold have plunged into the sea and to certain death,” said Barahona.
In the accident Barahona lost his wife, Xenia Palomo. He did not fly back to Costa Rica on the Air Surveillance flight (Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea), flying back on a Copa flight with his son, who flew to Nicaragua to be by his side.
To be recovered still are the bodies of four Costa Ricans. Today six helicopters from the U.S. South Command joined the Nicaragua navy in the search, according to Nicaragua First Lady and government spokeswoman, Rosario Murillo.
Many of the families learned of the tragedy on the news. A few of the survivors were able to borrow cell phones to call home. Two of the victims, Sandra Mayela Chacón and María Rosa Galicio, are in the Forensic morgue waiting on family contact.
A report by Telenoticias says the captain and owner of the boat, Hilario Blandón, was being investigated for drug trafficking. Nicaragua police commissioner, Aminta Granera Sacasa, Blandon had already completed his sentence for drug trafficking and was currently under investigation for similar crimes. Nicaraguan authorities allege that the boat carrying the passengers was also used for drug trafficking.
According to reports in Nicaragua, Blandon sailed with the tour group without permission, ignoring warnings about bad weather.
The bodies of the victims and survivors arrived Sunday night at Base 2 of the Juan Santamaria (San Jose) airport. Base 2 is off to the west of the main airport terminal.
Source: La Nacion, Crhoy.com, Telenoticias, Today Nicaragua
Read more at Todaynicaragua.com
In Costa Rica Sunday night.