Missing Mexican Nationals Found in Belizean Waters
Three Mexican nationals missing from Banco Chinchorro were found in Belize waters. 55-year-old, Jose Morales Hernandez; 59-year-old, Jose Guadalupe Cetina Martin, and 40-year-old Cristina Lizama Martin all had active missing person’s report in Quintana Roo, Chetumal after they had gone to sea and didn’t return home. The three individuals left their island on Tuesday by boat to get supplies from the mainland at Mahahual when they were pushed by strong winds; by October 17, a missing persons’ report was filed. Mexico’s Secretary of the Navy contacted Belize authorities in hope of locating the lost vessel carrying the couple and their worker. The Belize Coast Guard were able to locate the “Aurora de La Manana” boat at approximately 92.6 kilometers southeast of the Zaragoza Canal in Belize territory. Rear Admiral Elton Bennett explains how the Belize Coast Guard came to the rescue.
RADM Elton Bennett, BCG Commandant: “We received the information here at the Coast Guard headquarters. We informed our forward operating bases particularly in the north. A search area was developed jointly along with the Mexican Navy and it was a specific area where there was a likely location of where the persons in distress would be located. We searched for 48 hours. We could not find those individuals and then sometime on the 20th, one of the individuals arrived in Bacalar Chico near our forward operating base. He brought to our attention that the vessel was nearby and that he was able to swim ashore to our base. Our base at Bacalar Chico is very near to the Mexican border on northern Ambergris Caye. So he swam over to our base and informed us of their situation. We immediately went into rescue mode. We assisted that individual in terms of ensuring that he was properly hydrated and he was able to go out along with us on our vessel in order to locate the other two individuals that were drifting out at sea. So we did that and he assisted us in locating the vessel with the other two personnels. They were drifting at sea for over three days. We were able to locate them. They were in bad medical condition. We informed our Mexican counterpart that we had located the individuals and they came down from the Mexican side. We deployed our vessel to meet them at the border. We escorted them into the channel that led into our base and were able to hand over those three individuals in good health to the Mexican authorities.”
While the rescue mission lasted for about three days, Rear Admiral Bennett explained that there are many challenges that could be faced while being at sea. He noted that the joint effort between the Belize Coast Guard and its Mexican counterparts was a well-managed case.
RADM Elton Bennett, BCG Commandant: “You would have to appreciate that drifting out at sea for three days would normally feel like five to seven days when you’re just drifting aimlessly, especially if you don’t have provisions in terms of food and water. It becomes very much more difficult. One of the good things that they did was stay on board and the individual who swam from the vessel to our base in Bacalar Chico did so when the vessel was drifting close enough to our base that he felt strong enough to do that. So I think it was a well-managed case. It’s a joint effort with us and our Mexican counterparts that proved successful.”
The trio was received by the Mexican Navy Search and Rescue Unit (Estaciones Navales de Búsqueda y Rescate, ENSAR).