MV Christena Survivor Recounts Tragedy at Rotary Club of Liamuiga Meeting

Basseterre, St. Kitts – The Rotary Club of Liamuiga (RCL) took time to remember the Christena disaster at its weekly breakfast meeting held on Wednesday 6th August, 2014.

Diana Richards - Christena Disaster Survivor
Diana Richards – Christena Disaster Survivor

The Christena disaster was a maritime disaster which occurred on 1 August 1970, between the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis. There were over 200 casualties and relatively few survivors. One survivor is Diana Richards who shared her experience with Rotarians.

From Diana’s account there was something ominous about the waters that day as the Christenaentered, ‘the Channel’ on its way from Basseterre to Charlestown. 3

“It so happened that there were other Nevisians that I knew, young girls, and we started speaking. As the boat rocked from side to side I made the comment that I don’t know where we are going because I think this is it for us today so when the boat finally turned over, the last time I saw one of the girls and the last words I heard from her were, “Diana, it’s really happening”, said Diana.

According to Diana, after the boat capsized, persons stayed close to the boat thinking doing so would be the best way to survive but as the boat started sinking they realised that they had to move away from the boat. This increased the level of panic. Diana recalled that an individual shouted, “Let us stay together!” but what she realised after was that the individual was panicking and had intentions for the box she was using as a flotation device.

“The individual pushed me under the water and grabbed my box. It took me a while to get back to the surface. When I finally got to the surface I went back for my box and I got back my box. After I got back my box I started to calm down and rationalised that there was no way I could swim to Nevis or swim to shore but I knew the Christena was expected in Nevis at a particular hour and if it were not seen, alarm would be raised, so I decided at that point it was best to go among the dead and that is what I did.”Diana stated that while there in the water among the dead she prayed to her God and made a lot of promises if God were to save her. Some time afterwards, a small fishing boat from Nevis approached the disaster area and started circling. Diana heard one of the persons on the fishing
boat say, “O there’s a live one!” The persons aboard the fishing boat rescued Diana and about seven (7) others and took them to Pinney’s Beach, Nevis. For a couple of days after the disaster “open trucks” were used to transport the uncovered corpses to the graveyard.

The incident made a change in Diana’s life, “For me personally, up to this day it has made in my life. My faith in my God has always stayed strong because I keep asking, Why Me. I didn’t think I was any better than Rotary Club of Liamuiga (St. Kitts) President: Marcus L. Natta Immediate Past-President: Valentine Hodge · Vice-President: Lester Hanley · Secretary: Natasha St. Juste · Treasurer: Kaii Mills P.O. Box 1304, Basseterre, St. Kitts, West Indies · · anyone. It just happened that where I stood I was able to survive. This has given me inner strength. I have learned not to take on things that might seem difficult”, said Diana.

The Rotary Club of Liamuiga thanks Diana for sharing her experience. Membership in the Rotary Club of Liamuiga is open to business and professional persons residing in St. Kitts and Nevis. Meetings are held each Wednesday between 7:30 a.m. and 8:50 a.m. at the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club House. For more information on how you can become a
member or sponsor of the Rotary Club of Liamuiga please visit us online at or or contact us via email sent to

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