Day 3 of search for boaters

| 13/01/2010

Cayman Islands news , Grand Cayman local news, five missint at sea(CNS): The RCIPS Marine Unit is once again co-ordinating extensive air, land and sea searches in an effort to trace five people missing at sea since Sunday, 10 January, or their property, police said today (Wednesday 13 January). The police said a number of life vests, a jacket and a cap found by search teams yesterday did not belong to any of the missing people. A number of local divers have joined the search this morning and are now working alongside police divers to search the reef area. Unfortunately, because of the prevailing weather conditions the search is, for the moment, confined to the inside of the reef.

However, the situation will be monitored throughout the day and, as soon as it is safe for the divers to do so, they will move to the outer area of the reef.

Three Marine Unit boats (Tornado, Guardian and Niven D) have again been joined in the search by a number of private vessels. A boat manned by immigration officials is also actively taking part. The boats are engaged in searches around the reef. Rescue One, under the direction of the police air support co-ordinator, will undertake air sweeps of the area, and wave runners will be assisting with shoreline searches. Based on tide evaluation and analysis, police officers on foot and dog handlers will be concentrating their shore searches in the West Bay area. The shoreline searchers will be looking for anything washed up from the boat, such as personal property or clothing.

When last seen Raynell Wood was wearing a grey long-sleeved t-shirt and blue surfer type shorts. Astor Range was wearing a white t-shirt and Joshua Gilman was wearing a green and brown shirt, navy blue and green jacket. He also wore silver earrings and a large silver chain. At this time police do not have descriptions of the clothing worn by either Michelle Wood or Jeamie Avila.

Police officers have been keeping in close contact with the families and have been ensuring that they are kept fully informed of all developments and search plans and they are given all the support they need at this difficult time.

LIME, which assisted the police very early in the search by identifying the time that cell phones belonging to members of the missing group had stopped working, are continuing to support the operation by supplying fuel for the wave runners and food for those taking part in the searches.

Chief Inspector Courtney Myles of the RCIPS Marine Unit said, “We are grateful to the number of local people who are, day after day, turning out to help us in the search. Once again the real community spirit which exists in Cayman has shown that everyone is keen to help and provide whatever support they can. We are committed to using all available resources to find out what has happened to Raynell, Astor, Joshua, Jeamie and young Michelle. It is an extremely difficult time for all of the families involved in this tragedy and, as each day passes, we are working with them to prepare them for every possible outcome. We, in the search teams, do remain hopeful that we will be able to bring their loved ones home to them, but it’s now three days into the search and, as I said yesterday, we do have to be realistic.

“Once again I would appeal to anyone who wants to assist us in the search to contact the incident command centre. It’s great that so many people want to help, but it’s absolutely vital that they make us aware of who they are so that we make the most effective and efficient use of the resources we have available.”

Anyone with information or who wants to assist in the search should contact the incident command centre on 814 -7811.

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