One of the photos of the diving team before tragedy struck. L to R: Christopher Boodram (only diver to survive), Kazim Ali Jr, Yusuf Henry, Rishi Nagassar and Fyzal Kurban.
RADHICA DE SILVA
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Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for the dismissal of the Board of Paria Fuel Trading Company Limited, pending investigations into the tragic deaths of four divers who were trapped inside a 30-inch diameter pipeline over the weekend.

The petition, which was started by attorney Vanessa Soobrattie, got almost 16,000 signatures within 24 hours.

In an interview with Guardian Media, Soobrattie said the influx of signatures demonstrated the outrage that people were feeling for the divers—Fyzal Kurban, Rishi Nagessar, Yusuff Henry and Kazim Ali Jr—who died when they got sucked into a pipeline on February 25th.

“I started the petition on Instagram. As an attorney I realized that if an investigation was going to be done, it seemed logical to have the Board removed. The possibility exists that policies and evidence could be tampered with. To me, in the interest of a fair investigation, the proper step would have been for the Board to step down, resign or be removed.”

She added, “There is a clear lack of HSE policies. Protocols were breached and in the absence of an independent investigation, we want to see fairness for the families.”

Soobrattie said she has not yet reached out to the family but had no hesitation in helping them.

“I want to say I am truly saddened. The population needs to understand what happened. We knew where these divers were.  We had volunteers willing to go in and get them out at no liability to Paria and for whatever reason, they were blocked. That is why people are outraged,” she added.

The divers were conducting maintenance works on a 30-inch diameter seabed crude oil pipeline at Berth No 6, Pointe-a-Pierre on February 25, when they were sucked into the pipeline. Only one of them, Christopher Boodram, was saved.

Recovery efforts are now underway to find Nagessar’s body. Autopsies on the bodies of Kurban, Ali Jr and Henry will be done pending the results of a COVID test. A five-member independent team has been appointed by Energy Minister Stuart Young to probe the tragedy.

Anyone wanting to sign the petition can visit www.change.org