The search continues for seven fishermen who were forced overboard after they were attacked by bandits in the Gulf of Paria on Monday night.
By 10 am on Tuesday police tracked down and recovered the six stolen boat engines in a pirogue anchored off Sea Lots, Port-of-Spain.
Four people — two men and two women — had been detained in connection with the find.
The Coast Guard and other fishermen have been searching for the missing men identified as — Leslie Deboula, Anand Rampersad, Shiva Ramdeo, cousins Brandon Kissoon and Justin Kissoon, Trevor Baptiste and a man known only as Alex.
Five other men made it back to shore. Three of them were on a vessel without an engine and two others rescued from the water by other fishermen.
Relatives gathered at the Orange Valley Fishing Port yesterday praying for the men’s safe return as boatloads of other fishermen joined the search.
One of those survivors, Brian Seemungal recalled he was on board a pirogue with two others — the captain Baptiste and Alex — kilometres out at sea when another vessel came up alongside them.
Seemungal said he was drifting the water for hours before he was rescued and later learned that .
“Three of them come and talk to we like normal and then one of the fellas pull a gun and say he wants the engine and if he can’t get the engine he will take the boat,” Seemungal said.
“It couldn’t bolt out so they hit the captain two “planass” and they hit Alex, the next sailor, two slap with that they send me by the bow. When they get in the boat and they realise the engine really can’t come out, they say they taking the whole boat so we have to dive out.”
He said the attackers appeared to be locals and one man had a Guyanese accent.
One of them was armed with a long gun.
“I never see a gun like this, it chrome, this is gunmen buying to go and rob people,” a shaken Seemungul said.
Seemungal said he later learned that other boats had been attacked in the same area.
Sahidan Khan, the wife of another missing fisherman who was reportedly stabbed and beaten with a cutlass, could not contain her tears yesterday as spoke about Rampersad.
“I got a phone call this morning, I hear people saying he has been stabbed, some saying he was beaten and thrown overboard, the other guy said he was beaten very badly and when they were thrown overboard, he was complaining about pains,” she said.
“I just want him to come home, we have three little children and I need him in my life right now.”
Runa Ali, the mother Brandon Kissoon, stood looking out to sea praying for her son’s safe return.
“I just want my son to come home. He and my nephew, both of them are so young,” she said.
President of the Carli Bay Fishing Association Imtiaz Khan said this was one of the worst incidents involving fishermen robbed at sea he has ever seen. He said for years fishermen not only had to deal with bandits at sea but oil spills.
He criticised the Coast Guard for their inefficiency, saying 11 hours after the attacks a patrol vessel was sent out to join the search.
He called for more patrols by the Coast Guard to protect fishermen.
“We have very little help from the Coast Guard, we have helicopters parked up, vessels parked up and fishermen in need…this is what is going on here, we have big, big budgets for everything but nothing to help fishermen,” he said.
“We can’t be sitting ducks, I tired of hearing fishermen are sitting ducks, we need to get fishermen these little radios so from the time one strike, they could alert the rest.”
Guardian Media reached out to the Coast Guard for a comment on Tuesday but up until press time, none was received.