Tour boat company operations suspended

Operations at Four C’s Adventures – the tour company whose boat exploded in Exuma on Saturday, killing one person and leaving 11 others injured – have been suspended, according to Transport Minister Frankie Campbell.

Campbell said on Monday that the Exuma Port Authority issued an immediate cease and desist order on Sunday, pending the completion of an investigation.

“We don’t want to speculate as to the cause of the accident,” Campbell said.

“I don’t want anyone to interpret the fact that we asked the company to cease this operation as any indication of a conclusion of the investigation.

“It is normal procedure. There are number of other vessels that the company owns. I think it is prudent to ensure that everything is in order and that we can assure and guarantee safety as we move forward. It is not a finite decision. It is a temporary suspension of the operations until we are satisfied that we can move forward safely.”

Despite a report from the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) and local authorities on the island that the engine exploded, causing the fire, Acting Port Controller Raymond King said, the engine was still in tact and the cause of the blaze has not yet been determined.

“The engines weren’t affected as a part of what may have caused the explosion but, I wish not to speculate on what may have happened,” King noted.

“But just reassure the public that the port department will use all of its resources and collaborative efforts with the Bahamas maritime authority to find out the cause and to take responsive actions to prevent any future occurrence.

“The safety of boaters and the safe operations of vessels, and the protection of life is paramount for the port department.”

The tragedy unfolded shortly after 10:00 a.m., according to police, when the chartered Four C’s Adventures tour boat was traveling through the Exuma Cays with 10 tourists and two Bahamian crew members on board.

According to health officials, six persons were transported by air ambulance to New Providence, and were taken to the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).

Four of the injured were transported by United States Coast Guard to Bayfront Health Services in Florida, for medical treatment.

Eyewitness News spoke to Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands, who gave an update on the injured persons.

Member of Parliament (MP) for Exumas and Ragged Island Chester Cooper was on the ground in Exuma at the time of the incident and has called for a full investigation.

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Tourism, the incident is being investigated by the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF), the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) and the Bahamas Port Department (BPD).

“The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation is deeply saddened by yesterday’s tour boat incident in Exuma,” the statement read.

“We pray for the family of the passenger who succumbed to her injuries and offer our heartfelt condolences to her family and friends as they mourn her loss. Our prayers are also with all the other passengers who were aboard as they recover.”

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This article was written by GINELLE LONGLEY, Eyewitness News intern.