At least 23 people, including two children, are feared drowned after their boat overturned early Wednesday morning off the coast of Venezuela, the Trinidad Express newspaper reported Thursday.
It said that the fishing pirogue, which was carrying 35 illegal immigrants, including women, was due to have reached an inlet along Trinidad’s south western peninsula after a three and a half hour journey.
The newspaper said that on nearing the Bocas Islands, the boat “Yonaili José” encountered engine difficulty and later sank.
There has been no official statement here regarding the incident, but the newspaper quoted a Venezuelan woman residing here as saying that her sister, who was on board the vessel was coming here to help her.
“My sister was coming to Trinidad to help me. It is very bad in Venezuela. There is no food, no hospital and people are becoming desperate,” she told the Trinidad Express newspapers.
The newspaper said the Venezuelan news site, Noticiera Digital, reported that 23 of the 35 passengers were unaccounted for and that the Venezuelan coast guard had mounted a search.
“My sister contacted me on Tuesday and said she was leaving. I understand the survivors contacted the other relatives and told them that the boat overturned and some people were missing.”
Several Venezuelan nationals have come to Trinidad to escape the economic and political situation in the South American country where the United States is leading an offensive to remove President Nicolas Maduro from office.
The Trinidad and Tobago government said it had agreed to open a two-week registration for Venezuelans to allow them an initial stay of six months in which they can also work in the twin island republic.
Venezuelans, who arrive here legally or illegally,will benefit from the process and National Security Minister Stuart Young said the Venezuelans would undergo medical examinations and at the end of the six months, will have their situations evaluated before another six-month period becomes available to them.