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Polish yacht aground in Belize waters

GeneralPolish yacht aground in Belize waters

by Charles Gladden

BELIZE CITY, Tues. June 4, 2024

Over the weekend, reports emerged that a yacht with five persons on board – four Guatemalan nationals and a Spanish national – ran aground near Ray Caye off the Placencia coast, causing damage to the reef.

Initial reports from local media outlets indicated that the vessel was from Guatemala and had illegally entered the country; however, Amandala has confirmed with the Belize Port Authority that the vessel was registered in Poland, and entered the country legally on March 23, and that it is currently in police custody pending an investigation.

Information provided to Amandala is that the vessel named “Sole” was spotted by personnel of the Belize Coast Guard who were conducting patrols in the area on Saturday, June 1, around 2:00 p.m., but when they got near to Sole, it was already being removed from the reef. The boat is thus being held by police.

“It is a violation to run on the reef, and it is also a violation to remove a vessel that is grounded on the reef. On those grounds, we detained the individuals and the vessel, and we brought them on June 3 and handed them over to immigration officials in Big Creek. When we handed them over, it was in their hands and jurisdiction,” said Rear Admiral Elton Bennett, Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard.

According to Rear Admiral Bennett, a joint investigation is being carried out along with the Belize Port Authority and the Department of the Environment to determine how Sole ran aground on the reef.

“Our safety investigation is to find out the root cause of the problem, so that we can make recommendations and put things in place so this doesn’t happen again,” said Kaylon Young, Technical Manager at the Belize Port Authority.

When AMANDALA contacted the CEO of the Ministry of Immigration, Tanya Santos, she mentioned that there were no immigration charges levied on these individuals, because when checks were made on their passports it was found that they were regular visitors to the country with multiple entry and exit stamps from the Big Creek and Punta Gorda immigration ports.

Amandala has confirmed that the captain and his wife remain in Belize and are cooperating with Belizean authorities; meanwhile, the others have departed.

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