RADHICA DE SILVA
Absolutely no fire has been detected in the engine hub of the Carnival Runner which is slowly sinking in the Gulf of Paria, says Herbert George, chairman of the National Infrastructure Property Development Company (NIDCO).
In an exclusive interview with Guardian Media, George dispelled rumours that the engine room had been engulfed prior to the passenger ship sinking.
“The vessel was taking in water, and it is being pumped out. We are there doing that with Fire Services… until that is completed so we can go down and look at the hull to determine whether it is a weak spot in the hull due to wear and tear. There is no new information I can give at this time. It is taking on a whole lot of water and it’s being pumped out,” George said.
He added: “There was absolutely no fire in any part of that vessel. It was anchored and it’s one of the vessels that has not been in regular service. I don’t know what she [a witness] saw. There was no fire.”
Meanwhile, rising tides continue to thwart efforts to save the ship. The tide has been rising since 10:43 am. The next low tide will occur after 2:36 pm on Monday before rising again at 9:48 pm.
Meanwhile, in a statement, the company said teams from NIDCO, Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service and the Port of Spain Regional Corporation have been working since 4 am to stabilize the vessel.
NIDCO said the water taxi has been “on laid up status (not operational)” before it began taking on water at about 4 am.
“Based on the current operations it is expected that the vessel will be stabilized before 1 pm today. Professional divers are also on-site to carry out an underwater investigation to determine the cause of the incident. The public will be provided with a further update once the investigation is completed,” NIDCO said in an update to an earlier statement.
The company also said that safety is the highest priority for the Water Taxi Service.
“The two vessels—Trini Flash and Calypso Sprinter—which currently are being utilised on the service from Port of Spain to San Fernando, continue to achieve their 100 per cent vessel reliability rate and a 98 per cent vessel safety index annually,” the company said.
Works Minister Rohan Sinanan is expected to receive a report from NIDCO pending investigations.