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Cuba rejects responsibility for loss of Haiti-bound aid barge

04-22-2011 15:59 BJT

HAVANA, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Cuba denied the accusation of a U.S. homebuilding company Thursday that a Haiti-bound barge carrying humanitarian aid was lost in its custody, and blamed it on the company's negligence instead.

The Cuban Ministry of Transportation said in a statement Thursday that it "categorically" denies Harbor Homes LLC's claim that Cuba lost the goods, to be used for building houses in quake-torn Haiti and estimated to be worth about 2 million U.S. dollars.

The U.S. company has accused the Cuban government of denying the U.S. Coast Guard's request to enter Cuban waters to retrieve the ship Muheet after it ran out of fuel off the Cuban coast of Baracoa on Nov. 30, 2010, when it was carrying two barges with humanitarian aid for Haiti.

However, the U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday it had never sought to enter Cuban waters, as the crew were not in immediate danger and the Cuban side had said it was capable of responding.

Previous reports said the ship and one of the barges were salvaged by the Cuban tugboat Hercules, but the other barge was lost due to bad weather and poor visibility, as well as a line that broke during the tow.

The Cuban authorities have stored the recovered goods in a warehouse in Baracoa, and have presented an inventory to the U.S. side.

Meanwhile, the Cuban authorities said that during the inspection of the Muheet and the recaptured barge, they found expired licenses and insufficient anchor capability. They believed the latter caused the ship to quickly drift off to sea after first running out of fuel.

At present, the ship and the barge are not allowed to leave Cuba until the deficiencies have been corrected as stipulated by international and regional maritime regulations which Cuba is a signatory to.


Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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