“We do not intend to give up. We will continue the search intensively and no one is yet discussing the end of the search.”
Those were the reassuring words of Prime Minister Dr. the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Michael Francois and Superintendent John Mitchell, as they met with the families of the unaccounted for passengers of last Sunday’s boating incident in the north of the island.
The national security officials, who were also accompanied by Minister of Social Development and Housing Hon. Delma Thomas, Minister of Education and MP for St. Patrick’s West, Hon. Anthony Boatswain and Minister with responsibility for Disaster Management, Hon. Winston Garraway; all expressed their sympathies to those affected and reiterated government’s collective support in bringing about comfort and closure to this most unfortunate incident.
“When people are hurting, the first thing you should do is identify with the pain and then do what you can to ease it,” the Prime Minister told the gatherings at the Government School and the Community Center; as he urged everyone to band together, to stay above the fray and avoid casting blame, because that will be counterproductive to the healing of the community and nation as a whole.
Dr. Mitchell and team outlined the efforts of the relevant government agencies so far; in helping to not only find the missing persons but also to bring comfort and healing to the families and community. The team also emphasized that all efforts will continue until exhausted.
Since Sunday, the Coast Guard and other security vessels, have been scouring the waters in an expansive search.
The Regional Security System, for which the prime minister is the Chairman, as well as the Government of Trinidad and Tobago have also provided support with aerial searches for the missing persons. Prime Minister Mitchell assured the affected that other neighbouring countries have been sensitized about the incident so as to maintain vigilance and cover all the bases, given the proximity of the islands in the region, as well as the force of the waters.
The Ministry of Social Development is currently providing psychosocial and other tangible support to the families and as Minister Thomas reminded the community, the ministry stands ready to assist in any further way possible.
The National Disaster Management Agency has also been engaging the community and their Emergency Operations Center in River Sallee has been activated for support operations.
In the intensive sessions in River Sallee on Thursday evening, ACP Francois and Superintendent Mitchell responded to residents’ questions about the search and the ongoing efforts toward rescue and recovery. The superintendent reassured that from a security perspective, all efforts will continue in that regard because; as members of the armed forces, they are not only doing the job because they were directed but also because they are committed to bringing about results.
In responding to concerns that several police officers were callous in their actions since the incident, Prime Minister Mitchell, with the support of the hierarchy present, promised the affected that those claims will be treated with the utmost seriousness.
According to Dr. Mitchell, a small committee will be put in place to thoroughly investigate and address the claims; but for now the “focus is on finding the missing persons and assisting the families.” Until then, said the Prime Minister, “let us continue to pray a lot and do whatever else we can, physically and tangibly, as much as we can and leave the rest to God.”