Four people are dead and more than a dozen are being treated for serious injuries following an explosion in St Lucia’s north yesterday evening. It occurred at a quarry as workers welded a container carrying dynamite.
Neighbouring Martinique is helping the Eastern Caribbean island treat the injured, with four of them being airlifted to the French-speaking nation for treatment early this morning. Three doctors from Martinique are also at the Victoria Hospital in St Lucia to assist.
The explosion, which could be heard from miles away, occurred at Farrand Quarry, operated by Rayneau Construction, in Cul de Sac, Castries.
Three people died on the scene while a fourth, who was among 15 rushed to the hospital, later succumbed to his injuries.
The incident had triggered the full mass casualty response from the Victoria Hospital – a baptism by fire for the facility’s Acting Executive Director Brenda Calixte who took up duties just one day before the incident.
But she assured that the hospital was adequately managing the situation. Calixte said patients who had been on the wards but could safely be managed at home, were discharged to make more bed space available for the injured from the explosion, while other people who showed up at the A&E Department agreed to wait a little longer to be attended to by medical personnel.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has called on the nation for prayer and support for the families of those impacted by the incident.
Speaking from the hospital where he was joined by Castries South East MP Guy Joseph, he said: “Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones and those who are still waiting to find out information about their family members. You are all in our prayers in this difficult time. We must all support each other at this time and pray for our fellow St Lucians.”
Chastanet also thanked the emergency personnel and police and fire officers, who responded to the incident and were working into the night, as well as the staff, nurses and doctors at the Victoria Hospital who responded, “some without being called and who are working overtime to attend to the injured”.
The Prime Minister thanked them for their “selfless dedication in the wake of this crisis”.
“We should be so proud of all the staff and emergency response persons. This is testimony to what we can do as a people if we work together,” he said.