ARGENTINA | Divers find four more bodies in sunken vessel

From Buenos Aires Herald, 2012.05.13

Prefecture divers found four more bodies belonging to helmsman Marcelo Osvaldo Córdoba, chief engineer Felipe Aguirre, sailor Cristian Marmet and José de la Fuente Sequeire, all members of the missing crew of the vessel “Río Turbio,” which collided with Paraguayan tug “Ava Paraguya” on the Parana de las Palmas river.

So far six fatal victims have been found in the wreckage: Ciriaco Rodríguez, Gustavo Caracciolo, Felipe Haroldo Aguirre, Marcelo Osvaldo Córdoba, José Mario de la Fuente Sequeire and Cristian Ariel Marmet.

A Prefecture spokesperson announced that divers had found the bodies in the kitchen of the submerged ship.

The accident, which took place in early Saturday morning, resulted in at least four people dead when the two vessels collided. 

Earlier, divers recovered the bodies of captain Gustavo Caracciolo and first officer Ramón Ciriaco Rodríguez.

The collision took place yesterday at 4am between the Argentine sand barge “Río Turbio” and the Paraguayan tugboat “Ava Payagua.” The Argentine vessel sank as a result of the accident and seven of its eight-member crew went missing.

After the distress call, the Coast Guard deployed boats, coast guards and divers to the scene to try to rescue the missing sailors.

Apparently, the Paraguayan boat was not able to complete a manoeuvre and crashed into the sand barge, which was completely loaded. One of the Argentine sailors managed to swim to the surface of the Paraná River after the collision, while his seven colleagues disappeared.

The Coast Guard issued a press release reporting that the overall length of the “Ava Payagua” vessel was 32 metres and it was carrying containers. For its part , the Argentine ship was 82,72 metres long.

Security Minister Nilda Garré “is supervising the search and rescue operation,” and she “is in contact with the rescue teams working in the area,” the statement added.

The only member of the crew who managed to escape and was rescued by two teams of divers suffered “hypothermia” and was therefore hospitalized.

A 12-member crew was travelling on board the Paraguayan vessel but only three of them, those who commanded the ship, were taken into custody and remained in in solitary confinement, Coast Guard commander Sergio Gaetán told the press.

“Those under arrest are the captain of the boat, the “baqueano” (the maritime pilot) and the helmsman and the case will be presided over by the Zárate-Campana courts,” said Gaetán, who is in charge of the Zárate area.

The officer reported that the tugboat “was withheld in order to carry out expert studies.”

Gaetán did not comment on whether there was negligence by the Paraguayan crew. However, colleagues of the seven sailors who were still missing demanded “more professionalism” from their Paraguayan counterparts.

Captain Juan Carlos Pucchi and SOMU (Maritime Workers Union) union leader Leonel Abregú said that the area where the accident took place “is highly transited and, therefore, highly trained professionals are required.”

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