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More lifeguards for T&T’s beaches coming—Cadiz
Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz yesterday described the death of six-year-old Gabriella Marcano as “distressing” and called on parents to be more careful when taking their children to the beach. The body of Marcano, a second-year student of Anstey Girls’ Memorial Primary School, San Fernando, was fished out of the L’Anse Mitan River on Tuesday afternoon, two days after she disappeared while bathing with family members on the Gran Chemin Beach, Moruga.
Cadiz said while he did not have all the details surrounding the child’s drowning, parents needed to closely monitor their children on such outings, as beaches are hazardous during the dry season because of rough seas and the threat of jellyfish. In a telephone interview yesterday, Cadiz said a Cabinet note was approved last year, as his ministry sought to increase the manpower of the T&T Life Guard Service so they could add patrols to beaches which were unmanned.
“Any drowning is sad, especially now that this poor child has drowned. Anything like this is of course distressing. When you have children you have to watch them constantly and never take your eyes off of them. All of us who have children and take them to beaches should use caution and keep aware of the dangers,” Cadiz said.
“At present, Cabinet has approved a note that will allow us to go ahead with the development of the act under which the lifeguards fall, which will then see them becoming a professional lifeguard service. “We are looking at strengthening the force to add more beaches and increase the amount of signages for the service. These are some things we are looking into because deaths at any beach are a concern to us and we are looking at the whole operation.”
Cadiz said the service now employs 200 lifeguards who patrol only six beaches—Mayaro, Manzanilla, Maracas, Las Cuevas, Vessigny and Salybia—around the country. He said greater emphasis will also be placed on educating people on the dangers present at T&T’s beaches and that such changes can be expected later this year.
Cadiz said the lifeguard service may soon work together with the Met Office so proper warning systems could be implemented to alert sea bathers about the conditions at beaches. The minister’s call for vigilance was echoed by T&T Coast Guard public relations officer Kirk Jean-Baptiste, who said people need to be aware of the dangers that beaches pose and act accordingly.
“I think every beach that is populated by people should be manned by lifeguards, especially those that are normally frequented by public.
In the event they don’t have lifeguards, people should exercise due caution. If they check with the TDC (Tourism Development Company), they can learn which beaches have lifeguards. If it is not possible to have lifeguards, people need to be aware that we are on an island and the sea is very dangerous place, so we must be very vigilant,” Jean-Baptiste said.
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