UPDATED: August 13, 2010 – Approaching the Third Anniversary of the Arch Cott cave-in deaths
Cover-up by Government, Police & Coroner continues
“There is nothing that better illustrates the rot of corruption that infests our country than the fact that a young family of five died due to criminal neglect – and there will be no inquest.”
Now that former Attorney General Dale Marshall is in opposition, he’s incredibly vocal about the need for Government transparency and accountability. When in power though, he and his Barbados Labour Party used every trick in the book and then some to keep Bajans in the dark.
Today as we approach the third anniversary of the Arch Cot building collapse that killed a sleeping family of five, we remember that before the bodies were cold, Dale Marshall held a press conference and announced that the deaths were nobody’s fault, that it could have happened to anyone.
And that, my friends, was as close to an inquest as the political and business elites would allow. The people who died were nobodies, ordinary folks of no means or connections.
The people associated with their deaths are members of the business and political elites. Therefore, no inquest. It’s that simple.
Do you remember the dead? Their faces? Their names?
For the next two weeks let’s remember the victims and consider how they died as best as we can. Let’s remember the ongoing cover-up and the determination by Dale Marshall, Mia Mottley, Owen Arthur, David Thompson and Freundel Stuart that the mass death of five ordinary Bajans was nothing more than a regrettable inconvenience to be forgotten as soon as possible.
Five dead in one preventable happening. Lots of evidence of negligence, incompetence and deliberate criminal acts – but no inquest called by the BLP or the DLP in three years because they chose to protect their fellow elites instead of doing their duty for Barbados.
Our leaders are corrupt, uncaring bastards who NEVER hold fellow elites accountable for anything. Barbados deserves better…
Original article as first published January 16, 2009…
Cover-Up By Barbados Government, Police & Coroner
Professor Hans Machel, a specialist in earth and atmospheric sciences at the University of Alberta, Canada, says that the Arch Cot apartment collapse that killed five of the Codrington family was caused by “gross negligence” of people who could probably be identified by a properly-conducted inquest. He said that Barbados Government officials and other people could be held responsible for what they did or failed to do. Professor Machel spoke last Wednesday night at a meeting sponsored by the Barbados Museum and Historical Society.
On August 26, 2007 at about 4:25am, one of the many known caves on the island collapsed under the home of a sleeping family. Donavere 30, Cassandra 27, Shaquanda 7, Shaquille 3 and Yashiro 1 were killed when their home was swallowed in the night.
Witnesses state that Donavere lived for hours after the collapse and spoke to neighbours and friends from the blackness. Nothing more was heard from Donavere after a second collapse sent tons more debris into the hole. On an island that is so small, it took five hours for the first emergency response to arrive at the scene.
Could Donavere have been saved if the Barbados Fire and other Emergency personnel had acted more quickly? Could Donavere have been saved if our emergency services were better equipped?
According to witnesses, at least two weeks prior to the disaster there were indications that something was seriously wrong at the construction site near the Codrington family’s apartment. Cracking appeared in the ground and in nearby structures and the engineers were called in for an assessment. Some person made the decision to continue with the construction. One rumour says that a big government official was constructing a day-care center.
Any truthful inquest will reveal these and other incidents and warnings that happened at the construction site well in advance of the deadly collapse.
Attorney General Dale Marshall Announced Who Was Responsible Before The Bodies Were Cold – “Nobody Is To Blame…”
Right on cue on Day 6 of the Barbados apartment collapse, then Attorney General Dale Marshall held a press conference and announced the results of any yet-to-be-held inquest. He provided the standard “Nobody is to blame. It could have happened to anyone, anywhere in Barbados” excuse.
And that, my friends, was the end of any serious public examination into the deaths of five of our neighbours and friends – until the accusations of Professor Machel on Wednesday.
As Bajans watched the tragedy unfold back in August of 2007 they began asking questions – most of which have never been answered, and never will be. We don’t do inquests in Barbados – we pretend to do inquests. We never assign blame or accountability to individuals in Barbados – we say it “couldn’t be helped” or that it was “an act of God”.
Poor God gets blamed for a whole lot in Barbados.
Demand A Public Inquest!
Nation Newspaper: Negligence Caused Arch Cot Tragedy
Barbados Advocate: Wrong Site!
August 28, 2007 – Barbados Apartment Collapse – Thank You To The United States Of America
From the Barbados Advocate (reprinted because they destroy their online archives)
Professor Machel says rock at Arch Cot like ‘crumble cake’
THE house which fell into the cave at Brittons Hill in August 2007, tragically killing a family of five, should have never been built on that spot.
Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta in Canada, Hans Machel, made this assessment during a lecture held at Solidarity House on Wednesday night called, “Caves of Barbados and Elsewhere – Wonders and Dangers Underground”, where he described the incident as “gross negligence.”
“It doesn’t matter if it went down after five, ten, or fifteen years, it should not have been built there in the first place,” he stated.
In fact, he revealed that the house was built on a “myriad of pieces of stick coral rock, that are basically bonded together very weakly by sand.”
During his informative lecture, Professor Machel described the formation of caves and the corrosive processes that can make coral stone, which he says resembles Swiss cheese, weaken over time.
He then turned his attention to the tragic incident at Brittons Hill, alluding to a geological map of the area, which shows the nearby cliff face and Government’s photogrammetric map dated 1975, which when juxtaposed, showed the huge quarry in the lower terrace in front of the cliff face.
The professor said he was also made aware of a spring that at one time flowed from the east to the west, in close proximity to the apartment block. From all of these maps and local accounts, he concluded that someone must have known of the cave on which the house was built.
Professor Machel, who acquired a piece of the rock from “ground-zero” (as the scene of the tragedy was called), showed via multimedia presentation that it crumbled with little force in his hand. Persons in the audience were given an opportunity to scrutinise the rock after the lecture.
He explained that the stained and discoloured rocks on the site are evidence of the areas that were open to the elements for some time, while the rocks that were white showed the only areas that were keeping the cave together and subsequently collapsed.
“In principle it was not close to the cliff face… there are places where the cliff face is extremely hard and can carry a lot of load.”
“There is a very large cave, and it was known for at least two generations. So I am giving this two thumbs down. It was heavily jointed, it disintegrated into big blocks and the blocks themselves are very brittle, they are crumbling.
“The thickness of the roof of that cave would have been perfectly sufficient if the rock was hard and had a lot of strength, but it doesn’t, it’s like ‘crumble cake’.”
He suggested that the collapse on August 26 only needed a trigger to cause the devastation.
“It is no accident that this happened during the rainy season, in August, never mind if it was a dry or wet August, but it was the rainy season. There was a lot of water at Brittons Hill, it was jointed, it was weak and then it takes a bit of a rattle…” he said. This, he said, could have been compounded by accounts of nearby construction that could have also acted as a trigger for this collapse.
Noting that there are several other caves across the island, he advised persons to determine the geology of the area, fault lines and if there are caves. He noted that there are companies that provide imaging techniques in Barbados such as Ground Penetrating Radar, which could protect an investment and save lives.
The lecture was sponsored by the Barbados Museum and Historical Society. (JH)
HERE IS AN ARTICLE FROM THE NATION DETAILING HOW AN ENGINEERING STUDY WAS DONE PRIOR TO THE COLLAPSE!
Nation News: Just A Matter Of Time – August 28, 2007
Ralph Adams, a structural and civil engineer, said that the building collapse at Arch Cot, Brittons X Road, St Michael, was bound to happen at some point.
Adams, who was on the scene offering advice from Sunday, said the neighbourhood knew about the existence of a cave and still allowed people to build on it.
“It was just a matter of time before it was a disaster,” Adams told the Nation.
When asked about the actual size of the cave, he said it was quite big and had two cracks.
“There were two fault lines through the roof of the cave. One of them is exactly where you see the building split now, but it extends further under that apartment block, it extends across the road to the junction and it extends nearly to the front door of the house on the other side of the road and halfway under the house to the north,” said Adams.
He said the area was surveyed about a month ago and the cave let go [collapsed] on the fracture.
“The areas to the west have now fallen in, the original cave mouth is now closed, the rock is fractured and it looks as though it will fall out to the west. There is also the business below the cliff that is under threat.”
Adams said he was aware of planned construction at the rear of the apartment but whether or not the work had begun, the cave would have still given out because water was also weakening the area.
“There are four storm drainage wells hooked into the corner adjacent to the building, and they are degrading the rock. The surveyors surveyed it prior to their doing work next door and it already had fractures through the roof of the cave.”