General — 01 November 2013 — by Albert J. Ciego

The incessant rains have led to widespread flooding and strong-flowing rivers in Cayo which resulted in the death of Carlos Rito Valdez, 65, of Santa Cruz, Cayo.

At about 10:00 yesterday morning, Valdez, a farmer, while crossing the Mopan River, drowned when his canoe overturned. His younger friend managed to survive the strong eddies of the river and swam safely to the banks, but Rito Valdez went under the water, along with the canoe, and failed to resurface.

Luis Robel Baron 45, a Belizean farmer of San Jose, Succotz, told police that they were transporting some plantains from Valdez’s farm over the other side of the river, to Succotz, where he lives, on the other side.

As they were crossing the Mopan River, the boat capsized due to the force of the flooded river and the strong eddies. Baron said that after seeing his elderly friend go under, he quickly raised the alarm, and a search team, including police, was organized, but the incessant rain and the powerful, swiftly moving current made efforts to recover Rito Valdez very difficult.

The recovery team said that the conditions made it dangerous to do a body recovery, but they will carry out a search in the river when the raging waters subside.

Valdez’s grieving family wants his body found so that they can give him a decent burial.

Consuelo Castellanos, Valdez’s sister, in an interview with the media, said that they have been crossing the river since they were young, both in fair and inclement weather, so she is not sure why this particular effort at crossing the water proved fatal.

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