2 children die in boat accident during holiday period on island in Seychelles
Sixteen people were onboard the boat called ‘Lyly’ travelling from La Digue to Praslin on Wednesday evening when it capsized near the Chauve Souris island. (The Seychelles Police)
(Seychelles News Agency) - A 9-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy died when a boat capsized following a busy holiday period on La Digue, Seychelles' third-most populated island, the police said on Thursday.
Sixteen people were onboard the boat called ‘Lyly’ travelling from La Digue to Praslin on Wednesday evening when it capsized near the Chauve Souris island.
“The children who lost their lives were in the presence of at least one member of their family at the time the tragic incident occurred,” police spokesperson Jean Toussaint told reporters.
A 19-year-old boy suffering from injuries was also admitted to Seychelles hospital, Toussaint said.
The incident carries echoes of a boat accident during the same celebration two years ago in which three people died. Authorities had taken steps since then to reduce the likelihood of accidents during the celebration.
Toussaint said an investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the latest accident.
He said the police were alerted about the incident through a phone call and it took 10 minutes to reach the scene.
“As it was already dark and the sea was very rough, it took us two hours for the whole rescue. The first of the two children to be seen were the boy and later we found the girl,” said Toussaint.
The incident occurred during a time when there was a lot of movement on La Digue for the commemoration of the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, the Patron Saint of the island on Wednesday night.
The director general of the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration (SMSA), Joachim Valmont, said that as per preliminary information they received, the boat was departing La Digue for Praslin at around 9 p.m. but did not inform authorities of their departure.
Earlier this week, the authorities launched an appeal to all boat owners to follow existing regulations by informing the port of their departure, the expected time of return and the number of passengers they have on board.
In addition, there were three checkpoints operating on a 24-hour basis from August 14 to 20.
The director general of SMSA said that despite the incident the 1.8-metre vessel was carrying the appropriate number of passengers on board.
“This is one necessary thing that we were also checking before departure,” said Valmont.
A 20-year old Skipper of ‘Lyly’, the boat involved in the incident, has been detained and will appear before the court on Friday.
The police said they will also be questioning individuals and eyewitnesses as part of their investigation, which they hope will conclude very soon.
This is the second fatal boating incident to have occurred during the same event. In 2016, three people died when a boat carrying six passengers capsized and sank while travelling from La Digue to Praslin.
The police said that as the activities on La Digue are still ongoing people travelling by boat should follow the rules and regulations set by the authorities.
“People should take their responsibility and should not leave the island late at night. They should stay vigilant and should not leave the island with skippers who are drunk,” said Toussaint.
With no airstrip on La Digue, the island is accessed mostly by sea.