1 dead, 3 missing in piracy attacks on Corentyne river

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– Captain thrown overboard, swam for three hours before rescued by passing fishing boat

– 5 suspected pirates arrested

A fisherman is now dead and three others are missing following attacks on three boats by pirates on the Corentyne River on Friday evening.

Dead is Hemchand Sookdeo, 45, also called “Dread” of Number 55 Village, Corentyne, Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).

His lifeless body was pulled from the muddy waters tangled in a fisherman’s seine yesterday (Saturday) afternoon.

At right is Hemchand called Dread, who is dead; and the captain (second left) along with two crew members
In this composite photo (at right) is Hemchand Sookdeo, called Dread, who died in the pirate attack; the captain Seepersaud Persaud (second left) along with photos of two of the missing crew members

Those missing are Dochan Sukra, 54, also called “Butcher” of Number 55 Village; Dhanpaul Rampaul of Number 67  Village; and “Boyo” (only name given).

The Captain of one of the boats – Seepersaud Persaud, 43, of Corriverton – in which four fishermen were travelling, was rescued after being tossed into the Corentyne River.

Police Divisional Commander, Assistant Commissioner Ian Amsterdam said the Police have since located a boat, suspected to belong to the pirates, at a koker at Number 65 Village and have since arrested five men.

Meanwhile, the crew members of two other fishing vessels, which were also attacked on Friday night were said to be safe.

Reports indicate that the pirates attacked the vessels and in the process threw gasoline on the five crew members, threatening to set them ablaze.

The surviving captain said there were five pirates but only three of them were masked. The men, he said, all carried cutlasses. According to him, the men approached his vessel and demanded that they hand over their catch. According to the captain, he and his crew were forced into the pirates’ boat, which was anchored at the time.

“When we deh ah drive to shore, they tie up two of me workman and they tell me to throw over me wuk man an after me nah go throw them, he shove me over.”

Recounting the ordeal, Persaud said he swam for three hours and reached another fishing boat and was rescued. He said that after he was rescued, the Number 66 Fishermen’s Co-op was contacted and a rescue boat was sent out for him.

The attack on Persaud’s boat took place about five miles near Suriname waters.

The boat which is valued at $6 million and powered by two 48 horsepower engines is still missing. The catch was valued at $120,000.

Persaud, who has been in the fishing business for more than 15 years, said it was not the first time he was attacked by pirates. “I get attack plenty times but they never throw awe overboard before.”

Meanwhile, the dead fisherman’s wife, Basmattie Sookdeo, said the father of four had previously been working on his sister’s boat but left and was making his first trip with Persaud. He left on Thursday and was expected to return on Sunday (today). She said that her husband has been a fisherman since the age of 15.

According to his son, Tej Sookdeo, fishing was all his father could do. “All his life he is a fisherman. I know is a dangerous work and I always expect that something could happen,” he said.

Meanwhile, it was the third trip for Rampaul, whose main occupation is as a cane harvester.

“While ranks were investigating, they received additional information which gave a description of the boat involved and the amount of persons who were involved in the attack. As a result of that, we went to Number 65 foreshore where we saw a similar boat fitting the description. We arrested five persons who are in custody at this moment. Those persons are in custody and the boat is detained. We will be focusing to see whether we can restore the stolen articles which we know up to now is two 48 outboard engines. Based on that, we will conduct other raids to see if we can get information leading to the recovery of those engines,” Amsterdam was quoted as saying in a Guyana Times report. Investigations are ongoing.

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