. The silent mouth of the underground Brujuelas River has become a death trap for some swimmers in an area of the Boca Chica beach. Since the end of last April, four person have supposedly drowned at the place where one of the streams of the river joins the waters of the Caribbean Sea. The dangerous spot is near the heliport and in front of La Matica, about 80 meters from the water's edge.
Faced with this situation, the principle authorities of the city of Boca Chica decided yesterday to close off with posts the dangerous area and prohibit bathing all along the beach after 7 p.m.
The Brujuelas River rises in Monte Plata and goes underground from the Mella Highway until its mouth in Boca Chica, but its different points of entry into the Caribbean vary according to the season, and sometimes because of human interventions. This year it decided to come out in the area that was mentioned just in front of the bar called "Maximo Playa."
"At one time it (the river) flowed freely into the sea, but as it was closed off (the beach by businesses), then it was forced to find other places to come out," explained the mayor, Daniel Ozuna.
Traditionally, the place where the river comes out is called by the locals "the whirlpool." That is where supposedly, last Thursday, on Corpus Cristi, Omar Moran Ramirez, an Army officer, 27, became the last victim. The place is also said to have caused the drowning deaths of the boy Darlin Polanco Valentin, 10, the adolescent Onasis Reyes Peguero, 17, and the Colombian Andres Alberto Ocampo Llano.
According to the chief of the Fire Department, General Enerio Rodriguez Montero, one constant in the cases of the drowning is that, with the exception of the child, they were all swimming late in the afternoon or at night, violating the rules and the safety measures. At that time, the tide comes in and the danger of the hole (some 12 feet deep) increases. He agrees with the mayor that some of the victims were under the influence of alcohol, which perhaps made it harder for them to struggle for their lives.
A useless alert
Before taking the drastic measures yesterday, the authorities had placed a white buoy to warn of the danger, but few swimmers managed to understand its meaning. Some respected it during the day but at night it was ignored. The beach at Boca Chica is the closest to the capital, and it is one of the most visited public bathing spots, especially by the poorer segments of the population. It is considered to be one of the safest beaches due to the natural breakwater that protects it and the supervision. For example, last Easter Week, when it received a huge number of visitors, there were no deaths.
Worried by the increase in the fatalities, Mayor Ozuna called the vice-minister of Tourism in the area, Mario Viñas, the director of the Fire Department and the commander of the Tourism Police, Colonel Francia Hernandez into a meeting to take definitive measures.
Yesterday they all went to the beach, and in the presence of Diario Libre reporters, decided to cordon off the dangerous point with concrete pilings, prohibit bathing after 7:00 o'clock at night, construct two lifeguard towers and place two lifeguards on duty during the day, as well as establish mixed brigades of security agents and rescue personnel.
"Whoever comes into this area after seven at night is going to be arrested," stressed the vice-minister Viñas. Mayor Ozuna hopes that with the measures they are going to impose, the fatalities will cease.
De Diario Libre