Nova Scotia

Families mourn dead, missing men from yacht

The families of the man who died and the three men who are still missing from a sailing yacht that sank last week off the coast of Nova Scotia are grieving back home in Georgia.

Families grieve in yacht tragedy

NS

9 years agoVideo
2:07
The families of three sailors who went missing off the coast of N.S. are grieving in Georgia. 2:07

The families of the man who died and the three men who are still missing from a sailing yacht that sank last week off the coast of Nova Scotia are grieving back home in Georgia.

Nine men were aboard the SV Tabasco 2 when it ran into heavy seas. They were about 148 kilometres south of Cape Sable Island when they called for help on March 26.

The tanker FSL Hamburg rescued three of the men. A military search-and-rescue team hoisted three others off the stricken yacht, including the man who later died.

Two of the rescued men remain in Halifax, while three more are in Saint John, N.B.

The dead man is Tengiz Motsonelidze, 42, who lived with his wife and two children in Georgia. He was pulled from the water by SAR techs, but was pronounced dead at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital.

His sister-in-law, Neli Motsonelidze, who is in Georgia, said his family is trying to bring his body home.

She said his family has no idea how he got to Canada or who helped him.

"Tengo did not tell us about his plans. He managed everything alone, documents and etc. My sister just helped him to mortgage a house, and we just knew that he was going to Canada for a job," Neli Motsonelidze told the Georgian public broadcaster.

"He was seeking for a job for the better future of his children."

He had phoned home once since leaving Georgia two months ago, she said, but didn't say where he was.

The missing men are Zaza Latsabidze, 36, Nikoloz Tigishvili, 32, and Gocha Gotonelia, 35.

Bodies should be repatriated

Gotonelia's wife said: "Even if my husband is dead, I want him found and returned to his homeland."

Halifax immigration lawyer Lee Cohen agrees the bodies should be returned to their families.

Halifax immigration lawyer Lee Cohen says the bodies of the dead men should be repatriated if they are located. (CBC)

"There is no legal obligation on our part to continue the search and if the remains were found to actually repatriate those remains," Cohen said.

"But from a civil perspective, if the remains were found then we should — and hopefully would —  return them to their country of origin."

RCMP confirm the 11.5-meter SV Tabasco began its voyage from the Caribbean island of St. Maarten.

Officials from Canada Border Services Agency said two of the five survivors have been released, while three others are still detained.  

Cohen said one of the men has been staying at Metro Turning Point, an emergency shelter for homeless men, and has begun his application for refugee status.

"In former Soviet bloc countries there is still a considerable amount of tension and persecution related to various ethnic groups that populate various Soviet bloc countries. So life is not settled, secure and safe there for everybody," he said.

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