One dead as Matthew batters Eastern Caribbean

Friday, September 30, 2016

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KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) — A fourth form secondary school student died here Wednesday night after he was crushed by a boulder as he tried to alleviate flooding in his home during the passage of Matthew as a tropical storm.

A resident of the Central Leeward town said the teenager, whose name was not released yesterday, was crushed when he attempted to clear debris behind his home that was being flooded by heavy rains from the system which developed into a hurricane yesterday as it headed for the western Caribbean.

The house is located close to a rocky cliff and reports are that the boulder had become lose pinning the student against the wall of the concrete house, killing him instantly.

In Buccament Bay, a neighbouring village in Central Leeward, several people abandoned their homes and sought refuge in emergency shelters as the river nearby again overran its bank.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said his government will ensure that the relief effort after the passage of the storm goes well.

Gonsalves spoke by telephone on the state-owned National Broadcasting Corporation from Barbados, where he has been stranded since Tuesday as he tries to make it home from meetings in the United States and Puerto Rico last week.

"I want to first of all express sympathy to the family in Layou — the young man who tragically lost his life. I have received unconfirmed reports of two other situations but I will wait until I get confirmation," Gonsalves said.

Meanwhile, St Lucians yesterday began picking up the pieces from a trail of destruction left behind after 14 hours of battering by the storm.

Although there have been no reports of lives being lost, there has been significant damage to infrastructure as well as landslides, while several roads have been damaged by floods and blocked by debris and fallen trees which also brought down high-powered lines.

As a result of the road network being littered in some areas with high tension wires, schools were ordered closed while the commercial sector was given the option of opening after mid-day, but the banking community remains closed until today.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, speaking from Miami where he was awaiting a flight to return home, said as a result of fallen trees and flying debris 70 per cent of St Lucians were without electricity and a higher per cent without piped water.

In a later update he said that both airports, which were closed on Wednesday, had been reopened.

Tropical Storm Matthew dumped over 10 inches of rain when it passed directly over St Lucia on Wednesday afternoon accompanied by strong gusts, sometimes exceeding 60 miles per hour.

Met officials said the system was accompanied by high seas with waves of up to 20 feet.

A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday said Government was in the process of conducting an initial damage assessment following the passage of the storm.

And in Dominica, the damaged assessment continued yesterday as schools were ordered to remain closed until Monday. Heavy rains from Matthew triggered landslides in several parts of the country. There were also reports of some areas being without water and electricity.

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