Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Update on Yacht

Azteca, the mega-yacht which caused much uproar on Ambergris Caye by environmental organizations and local tour guides, flew its Bermudan flag as it dropped anchor on San Pedro Town waters. According to reports the vessel, named Azteca, dropped anchor within meters of the reef early Tuesday morning in a depth of about 35 feet of water. Law enforcement officers including members from the Department of Environment (DOE), San Pedro Police, Immigration, Customs and The Belize Coast Guard were dispatched to the area where the captain, 49-year-old Mexican, Salvador Villeras Eckart who resides in Cancun, Mexico was detained. As pictured, he was escorted to the San Pedro Police Department at approximately 2:00 p.m.
Salvador Villares Eckart escorted to the San Pedro Police Station by law enforcement officers.

Eckart told authorities that he was heading into Belizean waters, a few miles off the reef, when ropes got caught up in the propellers of the vessel. According to Eckart the engine on the vessel automatically shut down and the vessel took a turn for the reef. To avoid a direct impact on the reef, Eckart stated that they decided to use the anchors to bring the vessel to a stop. The anchors ripped through a large area of the reef before coming to a stand still, however a constant northeasterly wind kept moving the vessel moving in different locations causing further damage.

Unconfirmed reports allege that the yacht is owned by Ricardo Benjamín Salinas Pliego, considered one of the world’s richest man and owner of Azteca Television based in Mexico. The San Pedro Sun understands that Pliego and his family intended to stay in Belize for the Easter holiday after which he was scheduled to travel to Livingston, Guatemala.

Yacht anchors on reef

A white vessel flying a Bermudan flag is anchored on the reef cliff just in front of San Pedro Town. The San Pedro Sun confirmed with Hol Chan that indeed the vessel is anchored on the reef cliff in about 15 feet of water. Law enforcement officers have dispatched to the area. Hol Chan Marine Reserve Manager Miguel Alamilla stated that they are awaiting an impoundment order from the Department of Environment which will allow them to impound the vessel and detain the boat captain. The white yacht named Azteca is also flying a British flag. The captain of Azteca, 49-year-old Cancun resident Salvador Villeraz Eckart has been found. The San Pedro Sun will have more information as it becomes available.