A fisherman is now dead and a boat destroyed, following a mishap at Number 66 Village Corentyne in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) on Saturday.
Dead is Bhairo Persaud, 42, of Lot 138 Number 55 Village, Corentyne, Berbice. His body was recovered from the Number 66 Canal on Saturday afternoon.
Reports are Persaud, who was at the wharf, jumped overboard to assist the fishermen whose boat exploded.
Reports are that at about 11:45hrs, five fishermen were preparing to go out to sea in SK 1202 when one of them lit a stove to start cooking. As he ignited the match, there was an explosion and the boat went up in flames.
According to boat owner, Deonarine Harrypersaud, also called “Chona”, of Number 54 Village, Berbice, he was at the Number 66 Fishermen Co-op Complex as his workers were about to leave. He explained that he was called to the wharf and as he got closer, he noticed smoke.
The fisherman, who owns five boats, said everyone assisted and began cutting ropes to allow the boat on flame to be pushed away from the wharf and the other boats. The burning boat also contained five 45-gallon drums of gasoline.
As the boat was pushed further into the water by several persons risking their lives fully aware that at any moment the drums of gasoline could ignite and explode, an excavator operator working in the vicinity of the canal sprang into action and began digging mud and covering the gasoline drums. The swift action prevented any of the drums of gasoline from exploding. “We couldn’t take water to out the fire because of the gas. That Hymac man help we a lot. The mud is what help we,” the boat owner said.
Harrypersaud said several boats were damaged, with losses estimated at $5 million for the boat and a further $330,000 in fuel.
It is believed that one of the gas drums may have overflowed, allowing several gallons of gasoline to run into the boat, ignited by the fumes when the match was struck.
According to reports, the men onboard plunged into the water and immediately began the operation of getting the boat away from the 30 other boats in the vicinity and also from the wharf.
Meanwhile, Persaud went into the water to offer his assistance. “He was drunk so we beg he to come out of the water, because everything done, the fire already out, but he say that he want to help. The water was pulling very hard and he couldn’t help himself and he go down.”
Persaud had been the captain for a boat which was docked and had gone to the Fisherman’s Co-op for repairs.