Caribbean News Round-up


Jamaica to coordinate relief efforts in the Bahamas

151002131319-07-hurricane-joaquin-1002-exlarge-169[CMC] – The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) in Jamaica has said it will send a Rapid Needs Assessment Team (RNAT) to the Bahamas on Monday, to coordinate relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Joaquin.

The RNAT will include personnel from the Ministry of Health, Jamaica Defence Force, National Environmental and Planning Agency, National Works Agency, and the ODPEM.

Initial assessments reveal the Bahamas needs basic food supplies and water in areas affected by the hurricane.

Jamaica, with the assistance of the British West Indian Guard Ship, has dispatched 50 tonnes of supplies.

The ODPEM is providing the assistance in keeping with its responsibilities under the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Agency (CDEMA).

Meanwhile, early Sunday, Prime Minister Perry Christie pledged that no resources would be spared in the aftermath of the storm in restoring the islands ravaged by the hurricane despite the infrastructural cost being “extraordinary” and running to millions of dollars.

Speaking in Exuma on Saturday, Christie outlined the plans to respond quickly to the devastating effects of the hurricane, stating that there appeared to be “major devastation” in the south of Long Island.

He said the challenge for the government was to move immediately to help the affected islands.

“We have to touch all of these islands at the same time, contemporaneously,” he said.

Concerning the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the prime minister said the agency needs to be supplemented because of the extent of the devastation and the need to concentrate resources, including enlisting help from “allies and friends”.

He added that the British Navy is on its way to the affected area and would either go to Acklins and Crooked Island or to Long Island to help assess the damage.

Support teams from the United States would also be involved in the damage assessments.

The prime minister also dismissed rumours of 30 deaths from the storm, stating that they are “absolutely not true”.

He said he had been told by the police commissioner that one elderly man was confirmed dead but it was not connected to the hurricane.

“We have to anticipate that with a calamitous happening to this country that there could be loss of life,” he said.


Hunt for ship missing after Hurricane Joaquin 

_85890866_1453b2d5-71ae-40c3-acc2-55ea8760bbaf[BBC] – The US Coast Guard says it has resumed its search for a cargo ship with 33 crew that vanished in Bahamian waters during Hurricane Joaquin.

The 224-metre (735ft) El Faro, with 28 Americans and five Poles on board, was last heard from on Thursday and was reported to be taking on water.

The ship – which was travelling from Florida to Puerto Rico – was also believed to be listing at 15 degrees.

Joaquin brought heavy rains to the Bahamas, damaging a number of houses.

There have been no reports of casualties so far.

The now-weaker Category Four storm – with sustained winds of up to 210km/h (130mph) – is moving away from the island nation in the Atlantic.

US officials said they believed any threat to the East Coast was fading.



Guatemala landslide deaths rise to 73

– The Guatemalan authorities say the number of people killed when a hillside collapsed on houses in the village of El Cambray, 15km (nine miles) outside the capital, has risen to 73.

They said another 350 people were still believed to be missing under tonnes of rock and earth that slipped onto homes on Thursday night.

Rescue teams were using dogs to try to reach people trapped under the rubble.

A morgue has been set up with some burials already taking place.

A government spokesperson, Julia Barrera, said they had managed to rescue 26 people so far.

More than a thousand rescue workers are working at the disaster site deploying earth movers and sniffer dogs.

A spokesman for the Guatemalan emergency services, CONRED, Julio Sanchez said the United States and Mexico had offered help but were asked to remain on standby.

He said Guatemala was following international protocols that advocated search and rescue procedures for 72 hours after a disaster of this kind.

Rescue workers could be seen calling out to those trapped under the soil and listening intently for replies or movement.

One rescue worker told Reuters that after the initial 72 hours there was less probability of finding survivors alive and it was more difficult to find people alive after mudslides than after an earthquake.

Lula to be questioned in Petrobas scandal

Lula[BBC] – Brazilian officials investigating a corruption scandal at the state-run oil company Petrobras will be allowed to question ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the supreme court has ruled.

It said Lula would be heard as a witness and was not being investigated.

Police say they want to see if he benefited from the Petrobras scheme. Other members of the governing Workers’ Party will be questioned.

Prosecutors say firms bribed Petrobras executives to secure contracts.

Some of the money was then passed on to Workers’ Party politicians.

The scandal is the largest in Brazil’s history, with top politicians accused of taking bribes.

Among those arrested in connection are Mr Lula’s former chief of staff Joss Dirceu and the former Workers’ Party treasurer Joao Vaccari.

But Mr Lula’s successor as Brazilian leader, Dilma Rousseff, who chaired Petrobras when much of the corruption is believed to have taken place, has been cleared of involvement.




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