One person is dead and 17 missing after a boat sank off the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic on Saturday. The Dominican Navy rescued 4 people on Saturday afternoon, but most occupants remain missing, presumably stranded at sea. Authorities are still trying to determine what led to the horrifying accident.
One person has died, and many more are missing after a boat capsized and sank near the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic on Saturday. The boat, which was carrying up to 25 passengers, was initially reported to be a tour boat, but some sources speculate it may have been traveling illegally to Puerto Rico. Several rescue agencies participated in the mission, including the Navy and the Air Force, who managed to successfully rescue 4 people.
The incident occurred on Saturday morning when a boat operated by a local tour company set for sail in María Trinidad Sánchez, northeastern Dominican Republic. According to some sources, the vessel departed from one of the local beaches and was carrying 25 passengers, although authorities have so far yet to release an exact number.
Officials say the Dominican Navy activated its search and rescue protocol Saturday afternoon upon being notified of the missing vessel. It quickly put together a rescue team comprised of several boats to search for victims. Four people were recovered some kilometers from the coast and were taken to a local hospital for medical attention. In the meanwhile, authorities continued to search for the rest of the missing passengers, many of whom are still unaccounted for.
On Sunday, the Navy and Air Force continued their rescue efforts throughout the region, scanning large swathes of the ocean. Local fishing vessels also reportedly took part in the rescue mission. Units from several institutions took part; the Navy deployed a Capella GC-108 vessel and a rescue speedboat, and the armed forces contributed one helicopter for the rescue mission, according to a statement given by the Navy.
At least one person has been confirmed dead so far, identified as Narciso Almánzar Vásquez. The victim died due to drowning, according to hospital sources. Authorities say the number of dead passengers may increase as more bodies are recovered, although for the time being, only one body has been found.
Authorities have now launched an investigation into the sinking but have offered few explanations for the tragic case. Initially reported to be a tour boat, some sources have suggested the vessel may have been carrying people headed illegally to nearby Puerto Rico. According to media reports, some of the passengers were hotel employees.
Saturday’s incident isn’t the only one to shock the country this year. In April and May, several speedboat accidents resulted in multiple injuries and several deaths in the popular resort province of La Altagracia. After a multitude of accidents, it was revealed that not all local tour operators were compliant with regulations, including lifejackets and maximum passenger capacity. Authorities responded by revising regulations and publishing new guidelines shortly afterward.
The Dominican Republic has several islands that are especially popular for short-day trips, such as Saona or Catalina. With dozens of daily departures from Punta Cana, Bayahíbe, and Samaná, speedboats and catamarans are some of the most popular ways to travel to the Dominican Republic’s islands. Although most companies are reputable, visitors should always ensure that their tour operator has the necessary licenses for operating watercraft. Moreover, ensure that the vessel is equipped with proper safety equipment, including lifejackets. Travelers can also book their tours online, where they can read reviews and familiarize themselves with the tour company.
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