Mar 03, 2013 News
– policeman, Russian nationals among victims
A policeman and two Russian nationals were among ten people injured yesterday after several boxes of fuel-soaked dynamite exploded at the RUSAL Bauxite Inc. at Kwakwani, Berbice River.
Three of the victims were treated at the Kwakwani Hospital before being air-lifted to the city and admitted to the Dr. Balwant Singh Hospital. At press time, four others were being taken via trail to the city.
Sources identified some of the injured as Renat Muldas; Andre Kotsyubinskiy; Michael Inniss, Remington Wade, 22; Dexter Alert, 23; Winston Mettelholzer and Matthews. Sources said that Mettelholzer and Matthews are Rusal security personnel, while Alert was said to be a drilling assistant.
Kaieteur News understands that one of the Russian nationals sustained lacerations to the upper body and is considered to be the most seriously injured. The others were bleeding from the ears and had difficulty hearing.
One of the injured men told Kaieteur News that the group was disposing of several boxes of expired explosives when the mishap occurred.
According to the worker, the group, accompanied by police ranks and two Rusal security employees, had taken the boxes of dynamite to an area in the Kwakwani mines for disposal. Diesel fuel was reportedly then poured on the boxes before they were set alight, triggering a massive explosion that hurled some of the men several feet away.
“I went up about ten feet in the air,” the worker who spoke to Kaieteur News said.
The Russian nationals were reportedly closest to the scene and bore the brunt of the blast.
Kaieteur News was told that on previous occasions, employees would bury the expired explosives before having them detonated.
“We felt the tremors and then heard that people had been injured,” a Kwakwani resident said. Residents were of the view that they should have been notified about the operation.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment has deployed a team to investigate the incident.
A release from the Ministry stated that following the incident RUSAL Management indicated that efforts are being made to have its workers air-dashed to Georgetown for further precautionary medical attention.
“The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment has mandated the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Ministry of Labour and other agencies to conduct an urgent investigation and to examine occupational health and safety concerns at the Company’s operation.
“Meanwhile, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud has urged the team to conduct an expeditious and thorough investigation to ascertain the cause of the injuries, the release added.
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