Investigation begun into sinking of tourist catamaran

With 106 persons safely on land and plans being made to handle the remains of three dead passengers, the investigation has begun.

Prosecutors are in charge in an effort to determine if there was criminal liability in the sinking of the tourist catamaran EcoQuest.  The 27.43-meter (90-foot) triple decker boat overturned in strong winds and rough seas Thursday morning and quickly sank.

The dead tourists were all seniors. They were identified as Edna Oliver, 68, of the United States,  Sharon Johnson, 70, of Canada and Ivor Stanley Hopkings, 80, who held British nationality.

Earlier story . . . HERE!

There were no more deaths because the tour boat held five lifeboats and lifejackets for all passengers and crew. The wife of the dead British tourist complained that the boat crew members were slow in handing out life jackets.

Casa Presidencial later said that this was true and that the passengers were not given instructions for the use of the life jackets.

Autopsies will show the causes of deaths.

Many of the survivors bobbed around in their life jackets for up to 90 minutes before being pulled from the Gulf of Nicoya. Some passengers made videos of the rescues. Some went to Caldera and others returned to the EcoQuest home port of Los Sueños Marina.

Many were foreign tourists.

The investigation will center on the decision of the boat captain, identified by the last name of Tentorio, to sail into the gulf during strong winds. In addition, the actions of the crew will be studied.

One survivor said that the lower windows of the craft were open so that as the boat rocked back and forth, sea water entered. The way the boat overturned is evidence that there was a large quantity of water swirling around inside.

Omar Lizano of the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y  Limnología at the Universidad de Costa Rica said that there were winds of 10 to 18 kph with gusts of 40 kph.

Tourists who were shipwreck survivors line up to await transportation.

Tourists who were shipwreck survivors line up to await transportation.

The boat, which now is in about 450 feet of water, was owned by Global Trust Firm S.A. The boat was believed to have been operated by the firm Pura Vida Princess. Luis Fernando Coronado, director of the División Marítima Portuaria, said the boat was relatively new and built in 2007. He said the hulls were fiberglass.

The boat was last inspected Nov. 6 and had a seaworthy permit until next October, he said.

The trip Thursday was a common one to Isla Tortuga, also in the gulf of Nicoya. The mishap took place some seven miles off Punta Leona in the Central Pacific. Passengers paid about $125 to spend the day enjoying the beach and water at Isla Tortuga.

Two passengers ended up in hospitals. Cruz Roja workers checked out survivors as they came ashore. Most were barefoot.

The rescue involved the Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea and eventually eight boats of the Servicio Nacional  de Guardacostas that came from Caldera and Quepos. Private boats in the gulf also helped with survivors.

The boat operator had insurance with the Instituto Nacional de Seguros, which is handling claims.

Prosecutors were interviewing the captain and the first mate Thursday afternoon.

This entry was posted in Costa Rica News. Bookmark the permalink.