Family members of the missing divers anxiously await news of their loved ones, in Pointe a Pierre, on Saturday 26 February 2022. (Image by RISHI RAGOONATH)

As rescue operations continue for four trapped underwater welders following an incident at sea on Friday, their families are waiting with bated breath on word of their loved ones.

Gathered near the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery since early this morning, the families are praying for a miracle.

The missing men, who are employed with LMCS Ltd, are Kazim Ali Jnr, the managing director; Rishi Nagessar, 48; Fyzal Kurban 57; and Yusuf Henry,32. A fifth man, Christopher Boodram, was rescued.

The incident occurred around 3 pm on Friday, just off the Pointe a Pierre jetty.

In a release last night, Paria Fuel Trading Company Ltd stated that the five underwater welders of LMCS LTd were conducting an underwater maintenance exercise at the No 36 Sealine Riser on Berth #6 at Paria Trading Company Limited, Pointe a Pierre.

During the exercise, an incident occurred which resulted in the loss of sight of the five men who were being monitored from shore.

However, the company stated that incident management protocols at Paria were immediately triggered, in accordance with established standards.

One of the men was found and taken to the San Fernando Hospital. Kurban’s sister-in-law, Trisha Ramoutar, claimed that no immediate emergency rescue operations were activated.

She said Kurban’s son, who also is a professional diver, got there about a half an hour after the incident and no rescue operations were being undertaken.

She was told that other relatives who are also drivers were not given the clearance by Paria to search for them.

“Against instructions my nephew (Michael) and them gears up and went into the pipe and this is how they save Christopher Boodram. They took them out. When Christopher came out, Michael Kurban took him out, he started to shout and say ‘Go back for Fyzie! Go back for Fyzie! He right behind us!’ Fyzie is my brother-in-law.”

Boodram reported that the men were sharing air tanks.

“Christopher and Fyzie decided to swim out because the rest could not make it.  They were injured… I’m not sure. They swam out… Christopher swear Fyzie was behind him.”

Reports are that Kurban’s son Michael then went back into the water and found his father’s tank, but he could not go any further.

Ramoutar said Michael told them he heard a knocking on the pipe or a sound.

“He not sure because remember this is through a pipe,” she explained.

She said other attempts were made, but they were unsuccessful. She is not sure what is happening at this time. 

The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard is assisting in the search.