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Dec 14, 2017

Explosive Expert Says Quarry Blast Result of Human Error or Negligence

Within forty-eight hours of a deadly explosion at a quarry at the Santa Cruz Layout, Santa Elena, Cayo District, experts have put together a preliminary assessment of what possible went wrong. Canadian national Ron Sutherland of Tiger Aggregates was subcontracted to extract material from the quarry. He was in the danger zone when a second explosion occurred and was killed. As many as fourteen houses were damaged. There are two possible scenarios of what led to the blast of that magnitude, first that too much explosives were used and second that it was ill-timed. At a press brief today, bomb expert Lieutenant Colonel James Requeña provided some answers.


Ronald Sutherland

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The concussive effect of what ought to have been a controlled explosion, has rocked the quiet community of Santa Cruz, leaving in its wake piles of rubble and legal responsibility.  The ripple of the violent blast spread across the neighborhood in a massive shockwave, sending debris in all directions.  Confirmed dead once the dust had settled, was seventy-year-old Ronald Sutherland, general manager of Tiger Aggregates.  The seasoned demolition expert was subcontracted to handle explosives work in the area when something went terribly awry on Tuesday evening.


James Requeña

(Ret.) Lt. Col. James Requeña, Explosives Expert

“At about 6:30 p.m. on the twelfth of December, I received a call from San Ignacio Police’s second in command, requesting my assistance to make an assessment of an explosive incident that had occurred at a quarry at Santa Cruz Layout, Santa Elena, Cayo District.  Upon arrival at the scene and doing a physical assessment of the area, noticing where the boulders had landed and also speaking to various individuals on site, after ascertaining the facts as to what had transpired, I noted that Tiger Aggregates, under the ownership of the late Ronald Sutherland, was contracted by Belize Road Construction to do a quarry extraction, for materials to be extracted to be used by the company.”


Sutherland, along with two other experienced demolition men, namely Timoteo Chiac and Carlitos Alford, had set out to blow up a limestone hill, in order to provide aggregate for the building of a new road.  The plan to take down the karst high land backfired when the detonation false started.


(Ret.) Lt. Col. James Requeña

“There was an initial partial blast which was rectified by Mr. Sutherland and his team and subsequently the secondary blast, however, the secondary blast was a much larger [explosion] which projected or flung the stone particles at a farther distance than estimated.  This may occur for two reasons, human error or as a consequence of the type of explosive or the quantity used.  Mr. Ronald Sutherland’s unfortunate death was caused by him being within the danger zone.”


The sudden jolt from the charge going off tore Sutherland apart and injured several persons, including a pair of police officers who were in proximity of the explosion and raining fragments.


Richard Rosado

Supt. Richard Rosado, O.C., San Ignacio Police

“The five that received injuries, we had two police officers and three civilians, minor injuries.  The police’s role out there was basically to secure the safety of the residents and to secure the perimeter.  Initially we had the blast, like what the colonel said, the two hundred yards cordoned, two hundred meters, [but] the residents were actually evacuated to eight hundred meters.”


Notwithstanding an additional six hundred meters, the blast radius extended beyond what was thought to be a safe distance.


(Ret.) Lt. Col. James Requeña

“Based on the size and the quantity of the crater, the blast area should have been two hundred meters; however, people heard the effect because of the time of the day which is late afternoon when most things are quiet.  People claimed to have heard it at a much larger distance.  The angle in which the quarry is located faces the valley towards San Ignacio, from Santa Elena in that direction.  So, on the opposite side you would hear a louder bang.  You might not feel the blast, but you might hear the bang.  On the opposite side of the hill, you will not feel any blast of the quarry.  You will hear the sound at a louder pitch.”


The fatal mistake that resulted in Sutherland’s demise and structural damages to as many as fourteen homes is being investigated by the Belize Police Department.  If any of the surviving blasters is found culpable of having caused the disaster through negligence, then it will be a matter to be taken up by the Director of Public Prosecutions.


Supt. Richard Rosado

“Mr. Sutherland was the person who was contracted.  He had all the valid license, but the investigation is ongoing at this time.  Upon completion of the investigation, the file will be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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2 Responses for “Explosive Expert Says Quarry Blast Result of Human Error or Negligence”

  1. Rene says:

    They did not have all licenses- mining did not approve so they were engaged in an illegal act- he was always breaking and avoiding the law and royalties for a quick buck so ministers and menonites get rich faster

  2. quam says:

    bway. Rene the go on bad.

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