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Trinidad : 3 injured in downtown blast

By Exilus Deceyon

Port of Spain, 12 May. 06 [AlterPresse] --- What looked like the scene of another bombing in downtown Port-of-Spain on May 11 2006 was, in fact, the accidental explosion of a nuts vendor’s stove, says acting Police Commissioner Glen Roach.

Nonetheless, what Roach defined as an “incident” left the nuts vendor and two passers-by injured.

The explosion occurred just as hundreds of commuters were passing through the nation’s capital on their way home from work. Many scampered for safety in panic, fearing a repeat of the four bombings that occurred in the city last year.

“Preliminary reports are that at around 5.20 pm, a gas tank, sorry, a stove exploded as a result of leaking gas. That happened to a vendor who actually sells nuts at the corner of Independence Square South and Charlotte Street,” Roach said.

“That cart exploded and, as a result, the vendor was injured and two other passers-by.”

Roach did not identify the injured, who were all women, saying he wanted to verify the names he had received.

“My information is that the vendor is a bit seriously injured but the other two persons are slightly injured,” he said.

Roach said there was no reason for any additional security in the downtown area. He noted an intensive police search, which included the use of sniffer dogs, found no explosive devices.

When the Guardian arrived on the scene at around 5.30 pm, a woman was lying on the street near the cart in apparent pain.

There were two ambulances on the scene as police officers were converging on the area when Health Minister John Rahael arrived and began to supervise the medical treatment of those injured.

The injured woman was soon taken away in one of the ambulances as more police and soldiers arrived on the scene.

Just a few minutes later, a National Security helicopter flew overheard and would remain hovering over the scene well after dark.

It was at around 6.15 pm that Roach briefed reporters on the incident near to the site of the explosion, which, along with a large portion of Independence Square, was cordoned off by police.

By that time, police had blocked off pedestrian access from Independence Square North and South-from the Roman Catholic Cathedral to Henry Street-as scores of onlookers gathered. Vehicular access along Independence Square North was blocked from the Cathedral to St Vincent Street.

Police also prevented vehicles from accessing Independence Square South from the Cathedral to Frederick Street.

Roach was asked how long the area would remain cordoned off.

“For as long as we are able to process the crime scene...As soon as we are finished we are going to release the scene and things are going to go on as usual,” he said.
He was then asked if he was referring to the explosion site a crime scene or an accident scene.

“Well, let us say an incident scene until we can prove otherwise,” he said.
“We are 95 per cent sure that it is an accident.”

The Guardian pointed out that there was still a five per cent chance that the explosion was not accidental.

“Well, there is always that possibility, so we are not ruling it out until we are sure,” he said.

Andrew Jack, who was sitting directly behind the vendor when the explosion occurred, said he was flung to the ground by the force of the explosion. He was also splashed with hot water, he claimed, but did not suffer any injury. [ed gp apr 12/05/2006 15:00]