The Belize Port Authority has concluded their investigation into the boat explosion that killed two persons and injured six others on May 5, 2019. The explosion occurred at the water taxi terminal at the foot of the Swing Bridge on board a vessel from San Pedro Jet Express. Upon conclusion of the investigation, charges have been filed in the Court of Summary jurisdiction against Ernesto Delgado who was the master of the vessel; San Pedro Water Jets International Limited that was the operator of the vessel and Ocean Ferry Belize Limited that was the water taxi service operator. On the heels of the incident, the media had interviewed Benesford Matura of the National Fire Service. For reference, we bring you that interview.
Berisford Matura – Assistant Fire Chief: “Ocean Ferry had rented this boat for the day from a company named San Pedro Water Jet International ,a Mexican owned company. The boat was a 45 ft boat with a passenger capacity of sixty-eight. Yesterday on the said time there were thirty-four passengers on that boat. Interviewing the crew, the boat captain was Ernesto Delgado twenty nine-years-old, he was assisted by two deckhands, Santiago Guzman and Jonathan Teck. They had just fueled up the boat, the boat had four two hundred horsepower engines, when the captain started the engines one by one on the fourth engine that is when the explosion occurred. After dealing with the scene and we started to look at the preliminary looks at the examination of the stern of the boat, that is the area in the back of the boat where the explosion occurred, we realized that at some point within the stern of the boat there was a buildup of gasoline so that showed us that there was a sign of some sort of leak either from the fuel tank or fuel line. It is unknown which of the above but it is still under investigation but we ascertained that it was a leak when fuel especially gasoline which has a flammable range of 1.5% to 7.5%. Once the mixture of gasoline vapors is within the air at that certain range, any spark can trigger it off and that is what occurred yesterday in the stern of that boat. There was a leak and it was at the right percentage and it created a sudden explosion. The boat had three fuel tanks on it and they were all filled, nothing happened to them. If those tanks would had exploded we would be in a different story here today. We are looking into a mechanism called the bilge pump, that is the pump that trips in automatically once water is in the bottom of the boat it automatically pumps out the water from the bottom of the boat; it is electrical, it has a switch that turns on and turns off so we are looking at that and also at the fourth engine because it was when the fourth engine started the explosion happened so we are looking at both of those to see which one might have a fault where a spark would have occurred to trigger off this fuel that was in the presence of a spark.”
The explosion had caused the deaths of 10-year-old Yamiri Yasmin Guy, and 8-year-old Kimberly Melissa Guy. The charges brought against the three are in accordance with the Harbours and Merchant Shipping Act and include: (1) by negligence, caused the loss of life of Yamiri Guy And Kimberly Guy; (2) causing a vessel that was unsafe to be sent on a voyage; and (3) attempting to send a vessel that was unsafe on a voyage. The conclusion of the inquiry into the boat explosion is similar to the preliminary report given by Matura. It indicates that there was a build-up of fumes from fuel leakage in an enclosed compartment, which was then ignited by a spark created by a wire attached to the bilge pump. The two little girls were heading to Caye Caulker with their stepfather at the time of the explosion.