A British couple rescued from a sinking tourist boat in the Caribbean are said to be ‘OK’ after surviving the tragedy which claimed 13 lives.
Edward and Charlotte Beckett were among 21 people saved when the Reina del Caribe, Spanish for Caribbean Queen, capsized off the coast of Nicaragua after overturning in strong winds on Saturday.
The pair’s names were included on a list of survivors from five countries including the UK, U.S. and Brazil published by authorities, and a family member said of the newly-married pair, ‘they’re OK’.
Tragedy: Men carry the body of one of 13 Costa Ricans who died when a boat capsized in the Caribbean
Paradise: The boat sank while it was travelling between Corn Island and Little Corn Island (pictured)
Poor weather and high winds caused the craft to capsize while travelling between the paradise islands of Corn Island and Little Corn Island.
The British couple were reportedly rescued with two American tourists, three Nicaraguans and 12 Costa Ricans.
There are conflicting reports about who died in the incident – some say 11 women, two men and a child were killed, while others believe it was 13 women. All those who lost their lives were Costa Rican.
The skipper, Hilario Blandon, 53, was rescued alive before being arrested along with his assistant Eliot Absalon Prats Carter, 30.
Local authorities said the pair had left port without authorisation in adverse weather conditions.
Boat launches had reportedly been suspended in the area due to high wind speeds that reached 25 to 30 knots after several days of stormy weather around the remote islands.
Military police chief, General Francisco Diaz confirmed: ‘Both are under arrest and will be tried for the crimes of manslaughter and exposing people to danger.’
Guillermo Gonzales, co-director of the National System of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, added: ‘They put the lives of people at risk believing everything would be okay and now we’re lamenting the loss of life in this clear case of negligence.’
Nicaragua government spokeswoman, Rosario Murillo confirmed: ‘We are talking about 21 people who have been rescued alive and 13 people dead.
The British couple were reportedly rescued with two American tourists, three Nicaraguans and 12 Costa Ricans, but 13 people lost their lives
‘This is the dimension of this tragedy which causes us tremendous pain because our Costa Rican brothers and sisters were holidaying in Nicaraguan Caribbean waters.
‘Navy chiefs have told us there was an alert out warning ships not to leave port.
‘We feel heartbroken about what’s happened and we have to ensure there is no repeat and the people responsible for this tragedy are held accountable.
‘They are in jail on Corn Island but they to be tried.
‘President Daniel Ortega has instructed the head of the Army, Julio Cesar Aviles, to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.
‘We have to be a lot stricter with regards to the control of the boats sailing in our seas.’
A UK Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘We are aware of the sinking of a passenger boat between Corn Island and Little Corn Island in the Caribbean Sea on January 23.
‘We are in touch with the local authorities and providing consular assistance to affected British nationals.’
The Corn Islands, 43 miles from Nicaragua, are a popular tourist destination for snorkelling and scuba diving.
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