State-owned Paria Fuel Trading Company and LMCS Ltd yesterday both engaged in a blame game over the incident on February 25 in which four divers were killed while working on a pipeline.
LMCS had been silent since the incident but yesterday retained former United National Congress (UNC) senator Gerald Ramdeen and spoke out, calling for justice from “those responsible” for the incident.
The company also said it had paid for private autopsies of the divers.
The south-based dive company, which is at the centre of the underwater accident at Paria Fuel Trading that claimed four of its divers- Yusuf Henry, Kazim Ali Jr, Fyzal Kurban and Rishi Nagessar -, also made it clear it will be conducting its own investigations into the fatal matter and will be hiring private international investigators to do so.
The company blamed Paria and the T&T Coast Guard for preventing the rescue of the men.
“We not only had the manpower and personnel to carry out their rescue, but we provided Paria with the methodology to execute the rescue,” the company said in a statement.
The company, which is run Kazim Ali Jr’s father, Kazim Ali, maintained that it was prevented from those rescue operations by Paria and its agents.
“At all material times, we were prevented from executing this rescue by Paria and the T&T Coast Guard,” it said.
The company said when they “lost contact” with the four men, “our singular aim was the rescue of our employees.”
“We were not given a chance to save the lives of our employees,” LMCS said.
LMCS said it was the decisions taken by Paria and the T&T Coast Guard that effectively prevented them from attempting the rescue plan for the distressed divers.
“Those who made those decisions must be held accountable for them and must justify those decisions, not only to the families but to the public and to the authorities that are responsible for the enforcement of the law,” LMCS said.
On Friday 25, LMCS divers Yusuf Henry, Fyzal Kurban, Rishi Nagessar and Kazim Ali Jr were working to replace nuts at Berth 6 at the Paria’s offshore facility in Pointe-a-Pierre when a suction developed and the men were pulled into the 30-inch pipeline. The rescue diver, Christopher Boodram, was also trapped but was rescued by Michael Kurban, who is also attached to LMCS.
Kurban, in subsequent reports, maintained that he wanted to dive for the other four men, one of whom was his father but was prevented from doing so.
Energy Minister Stuart Young has since indicated an independent investigation will be conducted into the incident by a five-member team led by attorney Shiv Sharma. The panel is also expected to include independent experts from Shell and BP and has 40 days to complete its probe.
LMCS yesterday called for justice for the men.
“Those who were responsible for this tragedy that led to the death of our employees and the serious injuries to Mr Boodram must be held accountable for their actions or lack thereof,” the release said.
“To this end, the LMCS has retained, at its own cost, the services of a specialist pathologist to undertake private autopsies for all the deceased.
“In addition, since the incident, LMCS has been in the process of gathering all of the relevant evidence in order to provide international experts who are being retained by LMCS to determine the cause of this national disaster and ascertain who was responsible for the deaths of our employees or the decisions that led to their deaths.”
It added, “The impact of this incident on our LMCS staff has been devastating.”
The release said the company has facilitated counselling services to the deceased men’s families, lone survivor Christopher Boodram and the rest of the company’s employees and has also paid for the funeral services of Henry, Kurban and Nagessar.
Guardian Media reached out to Young about the company’s claims and its decision to retain its own private independent investigators and pay for private autopsies but there was no response.
However, Paria responded to LMCS’ claims hours later, saying that a lot of the information in the public domain was “inaccurate and also unjust.”