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Search goes on for bodies at WASA dam (with CNC3 video)
With tears running down her face, 73-year-old Jean Ramlal stood at the edge of the Navet Reservoir yesterday and begged God to return the bodies of her son Basdeo, and his friend Anthony Warrick, who are believed to have drowned on Saturday. Warrick, 55, an auditor employed with the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) and Basdeo Ramlal, 45, a retired WASA estate constable remained missing after disappearing in the 44-foot reservoir.
A frail-looking Ramlal went through several security checkpoints to get to the reservoir, where search parties including police, private divers, Coast Guard and villagers combed the water for the bodies. Fire Service Land and Rescue Special Unit also carried out unsuccessful searches along the perimeter of the dam and the search was called off around 5 pm.
For the entire day, soldiers and police blocked off the road leading to the dam and only allowed certain members of the search team to enter the area. Wiping away tears, Ramlal said: “My family told me that I have to go to the dam and ask the water to give me back my son. I begged God to give me back my child.” She said Ramlal was a generous, caring man who loved his 25-year-old son Derron Ramlal.
“He was always willing to help people and he would share with everybody,” Ramlal said. Basdeo started gardening a few years ago and was the treasurer of the Tabaquite Vegetable Farmers Association. His sister Janice Ramlal said Warrick and Basdeo left home on Saturday to lime at the reservoir, which is restricted for bathing and fishing. However, both Warrick and Basdeo had worked in the dam before and were familiar with its operations, Janice said.
She added that they took a gas tank to make a cook. Basdeo’s brothers Donnie and Elvis as well as relatives Doya Khan, 48, and Debra Ocho, 45, went on the trip. Around 10.30 am, both men took a WASA boat and went out for a sail in the dam when the boat began collecting water. There were 13 people on board at the time. Several of its occupants panicked and jumped out of the boat.
However, only 11 made it out alive. Ocho and Khan were both taken to the San Fernando General Hospital where they received medical treatment. Khan was said to be in a stable condition.
In a press statement yesterday, WASA’s head of corporate communications Ellen Lewis said the search will resume today. She said Basdeo and Warrick were among a party of 13 who were on an unauthorised boating expedition at the reservoir on Saturday. She explained that the boat which has a maximum capacity of four to six adults was overloaded.
“The boat used in the expedition was a single engine vessel usually used by authorised WASA personnel to conduct depth samples and for routine maintenance of the dam. No such exercise was being carried out at the time of the incident,” Lewis said.
She noted that the Navet Reservoir has a depth of 44-feet and storage capacity of 4.2 billion gallons of water. “The incident at the reservoir in no way compromises the safety of the water transmitted to customers. The Navet Reservoir stores raw water which has not yet undergone the rigid treatment process in accordance with World Health Organisation guidelines,” Lewis said. She added that WASA will continue to provide counselling to members of the family.
PC’s Chinebass and Dookie of the Brasso Police Station are continuing investigations.
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