A MASSIVE search-and-rescue mission was under way on Sunday, both on land and sea, for four men from Mayaro and Guayaguayare who disappeared after going on a fishing expedition last Tuesday.
[caption id="attachment_999470" align="alignnone" width="720"] MISSING AT SEA: Rishi Khemchan.[/caption]
The 32-foot pirogue (Venom II) which the men were in was found capsized off Cedros near Venezuela on Sunday morning. It was towed to the compound of Heritage Petroleum in Point Fortin.
Missing are the boat owner Heeralal "Lenus" Cooblal, 54, of Grand Lagoon, Mayaro; mechanic and welder Rishi Khemchan, 38, who lives not too far from Cooblal; Andy "Tallman" George, 40; and the boat's captain, identified only as "Criminal George." George and "Criminal George" are said to be both from Guayaguayare.
Criminal George, who is in his 60s, lives alone and is originally from the Ortoire Village/Manzanilla district.
The four left the Guayaguayare fishing port on Tuesday at around 2 pm on the "mother boat," meaning it was equipped with enough food and other supplies to last a few days at sea. They were expected to return on Thursday evening or Friday morning.
However, when they failed to return, relatives alerted the NGOs Hunters Search and Rescue Team (HRST), led by Vallence Rambharat, and Troopers Search and Rescue from Mayaro, led by Wesley Mohammed. They also alerted the Coast Guard, other fishermen and the police.
[caption id="attachment_999471" align="alignnone" width="763"] MISSING AT SEA: Pirogue owner Heeralal Cooblal.[/caption]
On Sunday, Heeralal's relatives told Newsday the father of three and grandfather of two has been going out to sea since he was a youth.
He turned to garden, and Tuesday was the first time in years he went out because he recently bought the boat. It was the boat's maiden trip.
"The engine was still on the boat, so it did not seem like a pirate attack. The boat was spotted about ten minutes from Venezuela's borders. The area where it was found is in the mang, which is infamous for piracy," a relative said.
Rambharat and his team were also searching and promised to help with fuel costs.
"These fishermen are very experienced and resilient. If they had to grab a cooler and put on their life jackets, we know they may be drifting in the waters somewhere between Venezuela and Cedros," Rambharat said.
[caption id="attachment_999482" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Wesley Mohammed, leader of the Troopers Search and Rescue Team of Mayaro, who is involved in the search for the four men. Photo by Lincoln Holder[/caption]
"The alert has to continue and try to see if we can locate them. The search is of paramount importance at this time."
Khemchan's sisters, Kavita and Sunita Khemchan, said he is a jack of all trades. He works as a welder, rigger, and mechanic. He was repairing the boat and went out with the three others.
"There is no sign of them up to now. I guess Rishi went into the sea because he was helping Mr Cooblal with the boat. While helping, he might have planned to probably