Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton believes yesterday’s deadly fire in Mahdia, Region 8 could have been avoided. Had there been a proper system in place, Norton opined that many of those who lost their lives, could have had a chance to escape with minimal harm. Norton was at the time speaking as a guest on a Trinidadian television show this morning.

Norton highlighted that while the investigation has so far revealed that it was a student residing in the dormitory that maliciously set fire to the dormitory, there were other contributing factors that need to be urgently addressed, including the lack of supervision. He highlighted that this may be one component, adding that the building code of the dormitory was outdated.

“To what extent does the ministry of public works ensure that there is adherence to the building code? Now you have a dormitory where children are living and the information coming out of the fire is that the building was ill-equipped, with the absence of fire extinguishers, no alarm systems and then it is compounded by the fact that it was heavily grilled,” Norton said.

He further added that the heavy security of the dormitory, with no emergency exit, constitutes gross negligence on the part of the authorities. “I don’t think any sensible person would grill up an entire building, more so have a padlock on it, and cannot locate the keys etc,” Norton said.

While expressing his condolences to the family of the 19 lives lost, Norton also recommended that the necessary actions be taken to ensure that other dormitories across the country be equipped with the necessary fire safety training and apparatuses. He pointed to the Sophia Holding Centre, adding that a similar heavily grilled security apparatus exists there.

The names of those who perished were confirmed as: Eulanda Carter, Valerie Carter, Mary Dandrade, Martha Dandrade, Lisa Roberts, Nicholeen Robinson, Sherana Daniels, Andrea Roberts, Delicia Edwards, Ariana Edwards, Loreen Evans, Sabrina John, Belnisa Evans, Bibi Jeffrey. Natalie Bellarmine, Adonijah Jerome, Cleoma simon, Tercell Thomas and Shurlin Bellarmine.

Fourteen youths died at the scene, while five died at the Mahdia District Hospital. Some 20 students were rescued by breaking holes in the north-eastern wall of the building.


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