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Three hurt in boat blast

By Susan Mohammed and Sue-Ann Wayow

THREE MEN were severely burnt in an explosion on a vessel docked near the Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL) loading bay in Claxton Bay, yesterday.

The men, identified as Vishesh Maharaj, 42; John Lambert, 48, and Trevor Henry, were welding on the supply vessel when the explosion occurred at around 1.50 p.m.

The three, along with seven other men, were repairing the MV Comanche Arrow, docked at the port of Trinidad Contractors Ltd off Old Southern Main Road.

The company’s manager Taram Gajramsingh told the Express last night the supply vessel is owned and operated by Trinidad Contractors Ltd and the injured men were the company’s employees.

He said the men were working on the open deck of the vessel when the explosion occurred.

Several sections of the vessel were destroyed and up to late yesterday evening, fire officers were still trying to contain the fire.

Gajramsingh said the boat’s replacement value was US$2 million. 

Henry Pancham, a businessman and resident of the area, said: “I heard a very loud explosion. It shook the ground. Within ten minutes, ambulances and about seven fire tenders and eight police cars arrived. I knew something big was happening.”

Paramedics took the men to Petrotrin’s Augustus Long Hospital in Pointe-a-Pierre. 

Maharaj, said to be the most seriously injured, was later transferred to San Fernando General Hospital. 

The Express was told that two persons were being treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) up to late yesterday evening.

One victim suffered 80 per cent burns and  the other 40 per cent. The victim who suffered 80 per cent burns will likely be flown abroad for specialist treatment, a hospital official said. 

Trinidad and Tobago does not yet have a Burns Unit established. One is expected to be set up with the construction of the Children’s Hospital in Couva.

T&T Coast Guard public relations officer Lt Kirk Jean-Baptiste said the Coast Guard was contacted at 3.15 p.m. and immediately visited the scene.

By the time they arrived fire officers were “handling the situation”, he said.

“The vessel was alongside the jetty and Fire Service was handling the situation. If the vessel was out at sea, then we would have to take the lead with Fire Service assisting,” said Jean-Baptiste.

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