PROTRACTED AND CHALLENGING RESCUE OPERATION SAVES 159 PEOPLE AT SEA
Samedi 16 janvier 2021 ((rezonodwes.com))–The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Marine Branch, supported by colleagues from the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources, the local marine community and the United States Coastguard were involved in a protracted and dangerous rescue of 159 people from a damaged boat on Molasses Reef, some 11 miles South of Providenciales.
The rescue was launched following a distress call at 9:05 a.m. on Friday, January 15, 2021.
The operation was commanded and coordinated by the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Control Room.
As the operation unfolded, several key agencies were placed on standby as the scale of the rescue and the number of people involved became clear. This included the Immigration Department, Ministry of Health, The Cheshire Hall Medical Centre, the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies and the TCI Regiment.
Over several hours, those rescued were placed on vessels provided by the RTCIPF, DECR and a private citizen.
The rescue operation was made difficult due to the reef itself, the position and precarious condition of the boat and the prevailing sea conditions.It is believed that the boat originated from Haiti. The persons on board are suspected irregular migrants.135 males and 24 females are currently in the custody of the Immigration Department.
The entire operation was incident free. Commissioner of Police Trevor Botting said, « Today demonstrated an extraordinary level of teamwork, leadership and collaboration between the RT&CIPF Commanders, Marine Branch, colleagues from DECR, members of the TCI marine community and the US Coastguard as 159 people were rescued from a very dangerous situation. Whatever the purpose of the journey and the intentions of those on board, their boat struck the reef causing damage to the boat and they needed help.
In response, many people stepped up to successfully rescue all those on board showing courage, humanity and professionalism ». Commissioner Botting added, « All those involved deserve great credit; thanks for what they achieved today. I am very proud of my team but also proud of all who played a part in this rescue. I especially want to thank the members of the TCI marine community who answered the call to support us. Your efforts are truly appreciated« .
source : Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force