Young slams Express, says there were aerial searches for fishermen
National Security Minister, Stuart Young, is denying reports that there has been no aerial search for seven fishermen that were robbed of their vessel by pirates in the Gulf of Paria on Tuesday morning. The men were tossed in the sea in the vicinity of Carli Bay and Orange Valley. Three others made it to shore and are being questioned by police.
In a statement on Wednesday, Minister Young said a Trinidad Express article titled "Why is there no aerial search for missing fishermen?” perpetuated "deliberate misinformation". He further criticised the Express which he said published the story without giving him a fair opportunity to respond.
"Reference is drawn to an online Trinidad Express article titled "Why is there no aerial search for missing fishermen?” with a preamble of “The Express has reached out to National Security Minister Stuart Young for answers...”. This was published by the Trinidad Express online at approximately 2:00 pm today."
"At 1:41 pm, a reporter from the Express messaged Minister Young on WhatsApp and, without him even reading the message, proceeded to publish her story at 2:00 pm with the Trinidad Express online using the preamble above. This timeframe of less than 20 minutes to expect a response is unreasonable in the circumstances."
Young said as at 2:50 pm on Wednesday, not a single Express reporter called him asking for information with respect to the missing fishermen and in particular, the search efforts. He also noted that he was on a site tour at the Whitehall from 1:30 pm to 2:40 pm and accordingly, was not on his phone.
Addressing claims by Corporate Secretary of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, Gary Aboud, that there were no flight missions, Young said this was not true. He said contrary to the allegations in the Trinidad Express' story, there have been a number of flight missions conducting operations in search of the missing fishermen.
He said the Trinidad and Tobago Air Guard has had fixed-wing flight searches using its C26 airplane and both National Helicopters Services Limited and the Ministry of National Security’s Helicopters have also been deployed to search for the missing men.
The release said he has been in contact with the Chief of Defence Staff and other Heads of Divisions requesting that resources, including sea and air, be used to find these men.
He said the Ministry of National Security will continue to deploy its resources in this search as it has been doing.