TEGUCIGALPA – Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez reported on Thursday that he had issued instructions to investigate the deaths of 27 fishermen in Caribbean waters in a shipwreck involving two vessels, an incident in which nine other people are still missing.
“I have given instructions to carry out the relevant investigations to identify the causes of this tragedy,” said Hernandez on Twitter.
He said that he had appointed the director of the government’s Permanent Contingency Commission (Copeco), Lisandro Rosales, to head the investigation.
The president said he “deeply” regretted the shipwreck involving the Honduran vessels near Cayo Gorda, in Gracias a Dios province, and the deaths of dozens on board the Capitan Wally, and he sent his expressions of “solidarity” to the families of the victims.
“Our institutions have coordinated rescue efforts, attention to the victims and relatives. Thanks to the volunteers for their support in this humanitarian effort,” Hernandez said.
Reportedly, 91 people were on board the Wally at the time of the shipwreck, of whom 27 drowned, 55 were rescued and nine are still missing, according to the Honduran armed forces.
So far, only one of the dead has been identified, the boat’s captain, Austin Haylock, several sources reported on Wednesday.
The second boat that sank, identified as the Francely, was transporting 49 people, but all were rescued.
A team of 10 doctors and nurses was dispatched by the Health Ministry to the Caratasca Naval Base to provide medical care to the survivors.
The charge d’affaires at the US Embassy in Honduras, Heide Fulton, on Thursday expressed US condolences to Honduras and the relatives of the victims.
A Honduran air force plane was sent to the area on Thursday to help with transporting the victims of the shipwrecks.
So far, Honduran authorities have not said anything about the cause of the incident, although armed forces spokesman Jose Domingo Meza said on Wednesday that the Wally was overloaded.
The Wally apparently set sail on Monday from Puerto Lempira, in Gracias a Dios province.