Sunday 20 September, 2020

Barbados extends exhaustive search for missing American visitors

Barbados doubling search efforts for missing New Jersey pair. This decision to extend the already 72-hour search by another 72 hours is a directive of the country's leader - Prime Minister Mia Mottley. 

Therefore, extensive searches continue in hopes of finding the missing American couple 32 year old Oscar Suarez and Magdalena Devil, 25, who disappeared on Monday after renting a jet ski on Holetown Beach, and went for a ride off the island West Coast.

Public Relations Officer Inspector Rodney Inniss, in a statement issued on Thursday night, noted the Police Marine Unit, the Barbados Coast Guard and Regional Security System Air Wing (RSS) conducted a search extending as far as the North and South of the island but were unable to locate the couple and or the jet ski that they had rented.

The two, who hail from New Jersey, arrived in Barbados on Saturday, June 22 and were staying that Discovery Bay Hotel at Trents, St James, and according to their booking, they are scheduled to leave on Saturday, June 29.

This now seems in doubt as searches, which began on Monday afternoon when they first disappeared and, which escalated in the early hours of Tuesday morning, have a finite time.

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Speaking at a Press Conference held at the Grantley Adams International Airport on her return from travels abroad, including London and Morocco, today, Thursday evening, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said, in addition to sending up prayers for the family, the search has been extended.

"The reason why we are extending the search for another 72 hours is that we want to make sure that we are doing everything humanly possible because none of us can bring back life.

“And if they are there and they are still capable of being found, then we must do everything possible to find them, as they have been doing for the last 72 hours - the Coast Guard, the RSS, the police," she told reporters.

Earlier this week, the RSS’ Air Wing Commander, Major George Harris explaining the unit’s actions in the search, said they conducted a their first mission on Tuesday morning, going airborne from just after 6 a.m., and flying for roughly a little over four and half hours.

“We conducted the flight at about 500 feet  . . . if you are looking for persons in the water, small objects like a jet ski . . . [this gives] observers on board the aircraft, the best possible condition to be able to detect. . .. We also did two mile tracks – one out about 30 miles to the west of the island in the primary area where the jet ski was supposed to have been operating and where it departed.  [Another one was] in two mile tracks again to give the observers onboard the aircraft, every opportunity to cover the areas, without missing large swathes of the ocean. 

“We then conducted a flight in the afternoon, three hours and 40 minutes long, and again in similar areas but a little bit further to the West North West. [This was] based on the drift currents, wind conditions and so on.  We followed that up with another flight [Wednesday morning], again for about four hours and 35 minutes, and this time we extended our search area to close to St Lucia,” he explained.

That flight also touched the southeast coast of St Lucia, the channel in between that eastern Caribbean nation and its neighbor St Vincent and the Grenadines as well.  A flight was also done around the island, checking all the beaches, bays and inlets, with nothing to report.

Speaking at a joint press conference yesterday, Commander of the Barbados Coast Guard, Lieutenant Commander Ryan Alleyne said its vessels were at sea combing the areas to the North West of Barbados.  In addition, contact had been made with the St Vincent and the Grenadines and the St Lucia Coast Guards, asking them, if any jet-skis came up in their coastal surveillance, they authorities here in Barbados be notified.

Also attending that briefing, in addition to officers from the Royal Barbados Police Force, Coast Guard and RSS, were officials from the Barbados Tourism Marketing Incorporated (BTMI).

There were accompanied by Devil’s father, Antoine Devil and her cousin Eric Pierre along with Ninfa Urrutia, Suarez’s mother, and his sister Susanna Cruz who arrived on island Wednesday afternoon.


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