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Dec 13, 2017

Quarry Explosion Kills Mining Manager; Destroys Houses in Santa Cruz Neighborhood

There are serious questions being asked tonight about a deadly explosion which caused the loss of one life, injured many others and left properties extensively damaged. A dynamite was exploded at a quarry in Santa Elena in the proximity of a residential area, killing Canadian consultant Ronald Sutherland. According to preliminary reports, a heavier load of explosives were used causing the creation of a larger crater and that led to the blast which was felt as far as four miles away. A bomb expert was brought in today by the Police Department to determine what went awfully wrong. There are indications that a report has been made available, but the content has not been released. Still yet, who provided the permit for the explosive activity in a highly populated area? News Five’s Duane Moody goes looking for answers today.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Around five-thirty on Tuesday evening, the unthinkable would happen in the quiet residential area of Santa Cruz in Santa Elena Town. Mining experts from Tiger Aggregates Limited detonated a large quantity of dynamite at a quarry. The company’s general manager, Canadian national Ronald Sutherland was killed in the blast; Sutherland had over thirty years of experience.


Earl Trapp

Earl Trapp, Mayor, Santa Elena

“Unfortunately something went wrong and the materials were missiled away from their anticipation or expectations and unfortunately my friend that was operating the dynamites, he was hit and he passed away.”


While Sutherland perished in the incident, several other persons received various degrees of injuries while trying to dodge the missiles from the blast. Houses and vehicles in the area, however, were extensively damaged. Varying sizes of rocks ricocheted and came crashing down; four houses were completely destroyed and families displaced. Residents who stood beyond the cordoned off area were unable to access their homes until just after eleven this morning.  They recounted the frightening ordeal, saying they were only notified that explosives would have been detonated in the area just before three p.m. that day by police and company reps.


Juanita Vanegas

Juanita Vanegas, Resident

“I see the first one it wasn’t anything big, but the second one, I mi di video it too but when I see it come up and I feel wah knock, I tell my friend run and I run fi make I gone out from the place because I get injured by my foot. After everything done, I gone up to check my property and I had to drop on my knee and cry because my property damage. I got two properties back there—one on rental and one weh I live—and they damage bad, bad.  The roof noh good fi nothing, the inside, the electricity, mi sewerage, everything bruk up; the big stones deh ina di house.”


Duane Moody

“How many of you lived there?”


Juanita Vanegas

“I have four kids and myself.”


Duane Moody

“Now, you guys were notified that these kinds of explosives were going to be used in the area?”


Juanita Vanegas

“Well on Tuesday, one of the workers come in and say just noh make we have the ids out because they will have a blast dah back. So we mi think dah something small and then yesterday evening, about two-thirty or two-forty, wah police lady come and say we need to left our properties, but we neva know dah that so bad ih mi wah happen.”


Marianne Foreman

Marianne Foreman, Resident

“I walked in and everything, the vehicles are destroyed; the big rocks, the boulders are in the vehicle. The windshield is bust. When you walk into the house, the zincs are down, the beds, the TV, the refrigerator; everything is broken into pieces. The stove, dirt everything is on—the debris is all over. And you see from the video, the boulders coming in from the zinc and you see the debris bursting out the doors. So these people lost everything and they took years of struggle to actually get them where they are right now for it to be destroyed in twenty seconds. I don’t understand as to why these people did a bombing in a residential area.”


Social media lit up in complete disbelief that an incident of this magnitude would happen in Belize, let alone in a residential area where at least fifteen houses were within a few hundred yards of the explosion.


Tiger Aggregates Limited was contracted by Belize Roadway Construction Limited, which won the approximately seven million dollar road rehabilitation project for Santa Elena Town.  The project, which is currently underway, is for drainage and pavement works on the George Price Highway and other areas. The company was in need of road material and sought the expertise of Tiger Aggregates Limited. But there is a pit on the Benque Road and on the Hummingbird Highway that could have been used. So who issued the authorization for the company to mine? Mayor Trapp says not his town council.


Earl Trapp

“I was shocked and surprised that they were mining in that area because I will tell you that yesterday about eleven o’clock I spoke to the contractor for the highway because he was excavating material from our pit on the Benque Viejo Road. And so I called and he said that the material from that site wasn’t passing the test of a solid foundation and I think in that respect they move to that spot to mine and I wasn’t aware of that.”


Duane Moody

“So that contractor just took it on his own to go there and mine in that area? I would think that is illegal.”


Earl Trapp

“Mister Moody I don’t think they would just go and mine in that area; definitely they would have had to gotten some permission from some authorities.”


News Five understands that the mining received a ministerial nod. Residents now question who will assist to replace the loss that they’ve incurred. Duane Moody for News Five.

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