Thursday 11th August, 2005

 

KABOOM!

Another blast rocks PoS

 
 
 
 
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Soldiers run past the pile of rubbish from which an explosive device went off on George Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. Photo: Shirley Bahadur

BY AVALENE HARRIS

Unique Book Store and Sports Centre, Independence Square, Port-of-Spain, was bustling with activity yesterday, as back-to-school shoppers with children and booklists in hand were making their way in and out of the store.

They were purchasing books and comparing prices hurriedly in an attempt to beat the rain which was threatening.

But at around 11.15 am, the rains came, followed by the usual thunder and lightning.

This reporter, who was conducting an interview at the store, was about to wrap up the session when a loud noise was heard at around 11.40 am.

Kaboom!

“What was that? You heard that?” I said to photographer Shirley Bahadur.

Everyone froze.

“That was thunder!” she said.

“Nah, that sound like a transformer just blow!” a customer exclaimed.

The noise sounded similar to that made by the explosion which occurred almost a month ago to the day on the corner of Queen and Frederick Streets.

On July 11, an explosive device was detonated in a garbage bin near to Maraj Gold Jewellers which left at least 13 people injured.

One woman, Yvonne McIvor, who was seriously injured in the explosion, was only discharged from the Seventh-day Adventist Hospital, Cocorite, on Tuesday, after having her left leg amputated.

As word spread that the noise was heard coming from George Street, there were different reactions from a huge crowd which had already gathered.

One soldier was already on the scene, taking information from eyewitnesses.

Eyewitnesses at Mohammed’s Barber Salon, opposite the site of the explosion, recalled the moments before the device went off.

Desmond Callender was the first to hear and see the commotion.

He was waiting to get a haircut.

Pointing to the pile of rubbish where the explosion took place, he said, “All of a sudden I hear this loud noise, and see the rubbish over there go up in the air and come back down scattering all over the road.”

Callender said he was so scared when the device detonated, he ran inside, followed by others who were standing on the side of the road.

“I never see man run so,” he said.

“It was a bomb-like sound. The others thought it was thunder and some was saying it was a transformer, but it have none. Look up and see.”

He said although the area was not usually busy around that time of day, there were people who would be going to the salons in the area.

There are five unisex salons on lower George Street.

No one remembered seeing anyone running from the scene or throwing anything into the rubbish.

“I ent see nothing and I here since about 9 am waiting on a small trim and mark,” one man said.

Another man said he was with three of his friends when he heard the noise and saw the rubbish spew into the air.

He ran inside Mohammed’s salon leaving the others standing in shock.

“This place getting real dread. You can’t even walk the road and be safe no more. Is either you walk in the middle of the road or in the sky.”

Jerod Smith, who works at Klass is Klass, a barber shop, shoe-making and repair business, said he was waiting to attend to a customer when he heard the noise and felt the building shake.

He said he took his pet bird to the salon to show off, but was later told to pack up and leave by police officers.

“I tell a girl to come and see my bird today, boy,” he stressed.

Only the day before, one of the barbers from Klass is Klass had been shot nearby.

“Like George Street blight,” Smith said.

By this time, uniformed and plainclothes police officers arrived and cordoned off the area.

One senior plainclothes officer was heard telling a woman, “Another one is expected to go off. Please leave here now.”

Bits of metal pipe, paper cups, bottles and bags were among the debris strewn across the roadway after the explosion.

There were no reported injuries.

One woman said she was at the nearby Cathedral of Immaculate Conception when she heard the noise and thought it was thunder.

“The noise really shake the church.

“It really frightening now. We have to pray seriously,” she said, shaking her head.

Personnel from the K-9 Unit, along with four sniffer dogs, arrived at around 12.40 pm.

They were followed by bomb experts who combed through what was left of the debris.

A helicopter was also seen circling above.

One woman shouted, “That better don’t land and blow away the evidence like the last time.”

Her statement drew barrels of laugher from on-lookers.

 

 

 

 

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