More Than 100 People Remain Stranded On Tiny Mona Island
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Authorities transported to Puerto Rico about 100 people marooned on tiny uninhabited Mona Island after the 375-foot ferry on which they were traveling ran hard aground, the U.S. Coast Guard said. More than 100 people remained stranded on the island.
The Coast Guard said authorities planned to transport the rest of the marooned passengers and crew members of the ferry to Puerto Rico by sometime today. Authorities said 218 passengers and crew were aboard the ferry, A. Regina, which ran hard aground about 500 yards off Mona island early Friday.
Authorities in western Puerto Rico said the movement of stranded passengers and crewmembers had been delayed by rain falling on the island, midway in the Mona Passage between the U.S. Commonwealth Caribbean island of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, where the boat was headed when the accident occurred.
No one was injured.
″About 100 are off (the island) now,″ 1st Class Petty Officer Reginald Reese, a Coast Guard Public Affairs officer said in San Juan on Friday night. He added that the remainder all would be transported by sometime today.
The A. Regina, a Dominican Ferries boat, carries passengers and automobiles between Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.
A single Coast Guard helicopter, based at the Borinquen Air Station, began the 40-mile evacuation trips from Mona Island to the small Mani Municipal Airport of Mayaguez in western Puerto Rico at 2 p.m. EST Friday. The helicopter holds 13 adults, but can carry between 20 and 24 children.
Those left behind were in no reported danger on the 14,000-acre island, which they shared with nine naturalists and hundreds of wild goats, pigs and six-foot iguanas.
″Infants, pregnant women and children were taken off first,″ Reese said.
The Coast Guard official said a U.S. Navy helicopter ″dropped food and water″ to those on the island, who were crammed in a lighthouse.
For four German tourists, the mishap was especially frustrating.
Siegried and Gisela Moseleit and Manfred and Elvira Fasking, of Hamburg, said they were due Friday to arrive in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, to begin a three-week vacation.
″We were first stranded at the Puerto Rico International Airport in San Juan, where we were told all planes to the Dominican Republic were fully booked, Moseleit said. ″Someone told us about the ferry, so we decided to take it. Now we are stranded on Mona Island.″
Evacuation started early Friday after passengers and crew spent the first night aboard the grounded vessel, when the ferry’s lifeboats began carrying them ashore.
The clean-up of a diesel fuel spill will start early today, Reese said. He quoted a U.S. Coast Guard marine safety officer identified only as Geck as saying ″all of the ferry’s tanks were ripped open″ by reefs.
But it was not known whether sand or rock pressing against the ferry’s hull held back any of the 60,000 to 80,000 gallons of diesel fuel estimated to be inside the tanks, which had a a capacity of 130,000 gallons.
Geck was also quoted as saying that ″2,500 feet of beach had been spoiled″ on Mona Island.
The ferry is locked on rock and sand. Nearby is the rusting hulk of a Dominican freighter that went aground four years ago.