TODAY NICARAGUA – A pair of British newly-weds are recovering in Nicaragua after the ferry they were on capsized in a storm in the Caribbean, drowning 13 fellow passengers.
The couple, named as Charlotte Rainsford and Edward Beckett, were among 21 people rescued from mountainous seas when a giant wave sank the vessel on Saturday.
The captain of the boat has been arrested and now faces manslaughter charges for ignoring warnings orders not to sail in the stormy weather.
A family member confirmed the newly-married pair had been on the stricken vessel, adding “they’re ok.”
They were reportedly rescued with two American tourists, three Nicaraguans and 12 Costa Ricans. The vessel, known as Reina del Caribe, or “Caribbean Queen,” was travelling between the Corn Islands, a popular tourist destination off the coast of south-eastern Nicaragua when it got into trouble amid rain and strong winds.
“This is a great tragedy, truly painful, because they were our Costa Rican, Central American brothers and sisters who were vacationing in the waters of the Nicaraguan Caribbean,” government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo told the official media portal El 19 Digital.
The skipper Hilario Blandon, 53, was also rescued alive before being arrested along with his assistant Eliot Absalon Prats Carter, 30.
General Francisco Diaz, a military police chief, said: “Both are under arrest and will be tried for the crimes of manslaughter and exposing people to danger.”
Mario Berrios, the Nicaraguan navy’s commander for the southern Caribbean region, said: “There was a warning that the weather conditions would be bad, but it appears that was ignored and this tragedy happened.
Authorities had suspended boat launches in the area due to winds reaching 25 to 30 knots (29 to 35 mph).
Nicaraguan papers published pictures of police covering some of the dead with a tarpaulin on a wooden jetty after their bodies were recovered
The Corn Islands, 43 miles from Nicaragua, are a popular tourist destination for snorkelling and scuba diving.
They were a British protectorate from 1655 to 1860, a period when the region was called the Mosquito Coast.
The Nicaraguan government annexed the region in 1894.
A 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.
“We are in touch with the local authorities and providing consular assistance to affected British nationals.”