Barbados Advocate (Finally) Publishes Prof. Machel’s Investigation Of Arch Cot Cave-In Deaths

I then submitted this letter for publication to both THE BARBADOS ADVOCATE and THE DAILY NATION. Neither of them dared to print my submission, even though one of them had at first indicated to me in no unmistaken terms that they were intent on printing it word-for-word in their Jan 30  edition. I have no doubt that pressure was applied that forced this retraction. Thus, the conspiracy of silence continues…

… Professor Hans G. Machel as published in the February 1, 2009 Barbados Free Press article Barbados Newspapers Refuse To Print Letter Revealing Secret Government Report Into Cave-In Deaths. Professor Machel Will Name Names

“At first, the children were heard screaming in agony…”

The Sunday, March 1, 2009 edition of the Barbados Advocate contains a major eight page article on the caves of Barbados and the deaths of the Codrington family of five when their home fell into a collapsing cave. The author, Professor Hans Machel, is a specialist in earth and atmospheric sciences at the University of Alberta, Canada who has spent many years studying our island.

Why did the Barbados Advocate newspaper choose to publish Machel’s article almost a month after their initial cowardly refusal? Did the paper’s editors suddenly grow a cojon? (Yes, singular is all we will give them credit for at this time.) OR… did they wait for a month until someone from the current Barbados DLP Government considered the situation and gave the paper permission to publish after deciding it was a good strategic move that didn’t impact any DLP bigshots?

Your guess is as good as ours, but it is good to see the Barbados Advocate printing Professor Machel’s article which is an expanded version of the articles first published at Barbados Free Press.

Citizens would do well to grab a paper before the story disappears again. The Barbados Advocate has made their Sunday edition available online as an image file at their website LINK HERE. To read the article online, you have to click where it says “Today’s Paper” and then view from page 33 to page 40. The story will disappear in a day because it is not posted as normal web page that will remain available.

barbados-cave-deaths

Here is some of what Professor Machel says in the article…

“The deaths of the Codrington family were entirely avoidable for two reasons: the house that they had lived in should never have been built on that site, and the imminent collapse of the huge cave underneath was not recognised or ignored.”

“…the property had a covenant or deed restriction attached to it for several decades, which limited what the owner of the land can do with it. This covenant stipulated that one shall not build on this land because of the cave underneath. Not surprisingly, when a former owner of the property attempted to get a building permit, it was denied by the authorities. He then sold the property, and yet the new owner erected the ill-fated house anyway, having received a building permit in 1982. One has to wonder how the authorities were ‘persuaded’ to deem the property safe after this history, and the suspicion is warranted that something grossly negligent if not illegal happened here.”

“Despite all this, the tragedy could have been avoided, had somebody not made a fateful – and as it turned out fatal – decision in the days preceding the cave collapse…”

PDF Copy of Professor Machel’s Article

Thanks to Professor Machel for providing us with this PDF copy of his article…

CLICK HERE (2.5 mb PDF)


29 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse, Corruption, Disaster, Freedom Of Information, Freedom Of The Press, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

29 responses to “Barbados Advocate (Finally) Publishes Prof. Machel’s Investigation Of Arch Cot Cave-In Deaths

  1. Chicago

    We DEMAND a public inquest!

  2. Jason

    Demand all you want Chicago. Owen Arthur and David Thompson agreed there would be no public inquest. They had some engineering reports done but at an inquest they lose control of the presentation and the outcome. Can’t have that in Barbados.

  3. David Brooks

    Well just looking at it from a totally political standpoint. Back in 1982 the building permit would not have involved any of the politicians that are around today, nor for the last 25+ years, which would exclude Liz Thomson. Mia Mottley, David Thompson (who was at UWI when I was there in that time frame), and even Owen Arthur who would have been elected just after this time.

    So we would have to look at the Tom Adams Administration of the early 1980’s for this and considering that most of the senior persons that might have been involved in any persuasive position are long retired or have passed on, I really don’t think that a witch hunt in that respect would be warrented, especially considering that it was 25 years ago.

    Again, I caution you in making judgements on things that happened that far back in time, especially when you only want to view it through present day view-points.

    Which is like looking at the 9/11 events (in 2001) and saying today (2009) well you should have done this and that … and that only an eight(8) year span.

    How about 25 years ago with regard to Arch Cot, did Barbados have the technology (not saying it did not exist) to check for these faults?

    And I will say AGAIN Town and Country Planning would have had little to say with regard to this sort of thing, and even if it was well known about the cave (which I know probably would have been) they (T&CP) would have had no footing (no pun) to stand on, as they would have lacked the technology to bring their suspicions or warnings to the legal arguement of the times.

    So, as I’ve said before, it should be laid at the developer/owner who built it, and considering such warnings, he should have endeavoured to make the foundation and the building in general much stronger than it appeared to be.

  4. David Brooks

    BFP,

    Why don’t you leave this to rest? The building was constructed over 25 years ago and by and large the Government has no liability and therefore no obligation to respond to your or any other calls for justice. However, the Coroner has the last say.

    Why not put your energies (back) into the Clico affair, especially now that we’ve learnt that the parent company bought up some 1.5 billion in real estate in Florida during 2005.

    Don’t forget the Mr. Parris is a director of the parent company too, which did this purchasing.

    Personally, even if I didn’t know about this as a Director I would want to resign my position after gaining knowledge about it under the current circumstances. But as usual I would guess that Mr. Parris was also a puppet.

  5. reality check

    “The building was constructed over 25 years ago and by and large the Government has no liability and therefore no obligation to respond to your or any other calls for justice.”

    complete and utter nonsense

    Government may not be to blame or have partial liability but that is up to an independent inquest to decide.

    seems to be there was some construction that went on well after the intial construction and there is a whole host of people that need to be scrutinized from the contractors, issuers of permits, emergency crews etc.

    The Codringtons and people of Barbados deserve a completely independent assessment of what went on and what should have been done and what must be done in the future.

    David Brooks is symtomatic of a cover up, hear no evil, speak no evil and see no evil attitude that permeates every aspect of Barbadian life. There is no transparency in Barbados.

    Clico is a huge story but so is a country cover up that will not complete an inquest on a tragic preventable tragedy.

  6. Red Lake Lassie

    Quite right, reality check. Construction was halted at the scene for a week. An engineering assessment was done and then four days before the deaths someone gave the order to commence work again.

    Who gave the order? Who did what assessment? What methods and tools were used in the assessment? Knowing Barbados ground penetrating radar was not used, and the only assessment was “Looks ok to me boys. Get back to work and stop complaining”

  7. Red Lake Lassie

    More questions for an inquest:

    Why did it take hours and hours for the first emergency units to arrive at the scene? What plan is in place for disasters like this? Is there a plan? Do the emergency services (police, fire, defense) have portable lighting immediately available in the middle of the night for disasters? Why not? Who was in charge of emergency response planning?

    Why do our fire fighters have to rely upon used equipment hand-me-downs from Canada and the US? A few million dollars or less out of the hundreds of millions the BLP spent could have re-equipped our emergency services to a modern standard.

  8. .34

    Read the Professor’s report Mr. Brooks… “Despite all this, the tragedy could have been avoided, had somebody not made a fateful – and as it turned out fatal – decision in the days preceding the cave collapse…”

  9. John

    I note at the very end of the article the Advocate refers under “Suggested Preliminary Reading” to the article on Barbados Free Press and actually gives the link.

    WOW!!

  10. David Brooks

    Sorry, was not looking at it from the angle of the nearby construction, etc. – actually forgot about that when I said the above.

    I was just referring to the initial building itself – i.e. the construction of the Arch Cot building – but if there is a link to the incident at the nearby construction of the new British American (btw: Clico subsiduary, coincidence I know, but still ironic) site then by all means let the inquest begin.

    Note I did not say not to have the inquest, again, what I was getting at was the actual circumstances surrounding the permission and building of the Arch Cot building itself was going to be non-starter, or at the very least could only be leveled at the owner/builder from 25+ years ago.

    However, one cannot get away from the fact that it was a disaster waiting to happen and I dare say it would have collapsed four months later when we had the earthquake here.

  11. John

    Lord have mercy David.

    You have arrived!!

    Man, …… it was like pulling teeth though!!

  12. Hans G.Machel

    Hi everyone,

    My article in The Barbados Advocate from March-01-2009 is no longer on-line. Unfortunately, they do not post-back-issues. I have provided a pdf-version of my article to BFP and asked them to post it for download.

    As for The Barbados Advocate growing a cojón (that’s a nasty Spanish word for a bull’s ball, in case you don’t know), there is a logical explanation. My March-01-2009 article in The Barbados Advocate is significantly expanded over the original article that was posted on BFP Feb-01-2009, and it is serving largely as public education regarding caves in Barbados in general (there is nothing like it anywhere in the published literature, scientific or otherwise), and only one quarter (2 out of 8 pages) is devoted to the Arch Cot tragedy, while the political slant of the Feb-01-2009 article is removed. Although I was truly disappointed at the time of submission (late January) that The Barbados Advocate did not see fit to print the original article, I sympathize with the editorial board for not wanting to burn their fingers. To their credit, printing the expanded article on March 01 is to be applauded without reservation.

    Hans G. Machel

    *******************

    BFP says,

    Thanks Professor,

    Gosh, that is too bad that the Barbados Advocate doesn’t keep their articles online… and they never published it online to begin with in a manner that could be searchable by Google etc.

    Hmmmmmmm….. I wonder….. Professor, the article published online by the Barbados Advocate relied heavily in various sections from material first published by Barbados Free Press. Hmmmmm….. yes, we will think about this situation as it is a shame that the article has now been removed from public view in typical Advocate fashion.

  13. Hans G. Machel

    Bear with them BFP. There surely are no bad intentions here on their part. They didn’t remove my article specifically. Rather, they removed their whole March-01-2009 issue on March 02, as they always post only the issue of the day.
    Hopefully they will post back issues in the future, as the NATION newspapers does.

  14. Cliverton Not Signed In

    Hi Prof M.

    Yes we know they didn’t remove your article specifically because they remove ALL articles. They even destroyed much of their own paper archives years ago if you can believe that!

    I believe that George Orwell was familiar with the reasons and process.

    We are very pleased that the editors of the Barbados Advocate published your article, but it seems to us that they have a public duty to keep the issue alive by allowing public access to their archives.

    Oh well, I have no doubt that someone will post a scanned copy sooner or later. 😉

  15. Hants

    Hans G.Machel
    March 2, 2009 at 4:55 pm
    wrote
    “I have provided a pdf-version of my article to BFP and asked them to post it for download.

    Cliverton Where is the pdf ?

  16. David Brooks

    No, I was simply on the line of the initial building contruction that’s all, as I got the impression here and under other related headings that there was a witch hunt on for permission to build on that spot, etc. which was over 25 years ago and I did not think it fair that T&CP and any other Government entity – person or otherwise – should be on that list.

    I still say that the building was constructed cheaply and corners cut that ultimately compromised saftey, etc.

  17. David Brooks

    Professor,

    Having not read your article as yet, so if this is covered in there forgive me.

    But am I correct that T&CP, especially 25+ years ago, would have had no say in how the structure was build – viz-a-viz: as per a Building Code – and that basically that would have been up to the owner/builder?

    What is your opinion of this angle of the debate? Remember we’re looking this in 25+ year hindsight and have to consider the conditions and information available at that time, and therefore we cannot assign today’s standards in our judgement of matters a quarter of a century ago – which I see happening here (not by you, but some other contributors) in the heat of the debate.

  18. David Brooks

    Yes, I would like to have a proper read of it.

  19. Cliverton Not Signed In

    I’m on a public PC so I can’t do it right now. Marcus? George? You there?

  20. David Brooks (not signed in)

    BFP,

    Could you get to my reply/question that I asked the Professor since yesterday and is still under moderation?

    I note you (or one of you) have been online since I sent my reply/question. I’m not at my usual PC but I an see its not been released as yet.

    ****************

    BFP says,

    Hi David…. found it and released it just now. Sorry it was way down on the list a couple of pages and we didn’t go back that far.

    Clive

    Thanks in advance.

  21. David Brooks

    Thanks.

  22. greg_or

    I know that David Brooks is pushing the point of accountability 25+ years ago and this can be something of a red-herring, but lets use it as a model. Today we have the duly elected member for St. Thomas being highlighted as a person whom is/was constructing a residence in Vault Road, in an area T&CP had refused existing residents from adding a shed-roof to their homes sighting protection issues for the Caves of Barbados (we don’t know the extents of the caves). Will this be another Arch Cot 25+ years from now, without accountability?

  23. Mike Ashby

    I applaud the efforts of the commentators above, especially those of Prof. Machel, in spotlighting this incident. I read your comments and was especially please with the document on ‘sink holes’ contributed by the Prof.
    While I agree with some of what David is focusing on, I have to disagree with some of his evaluations. Even if the building in question was constructed cheaply and corners were cut, that is not why the collapse occurred. From my experience, this is simply a question of geology. The problem here is that even though we have seen extraordinary development on the island, this development has gone on without proper planning or consideration for the physical environment. A process (the sighting & location of engineered structures) is still a mystery to many Barbadians. The existing conditions that led up to the Arch Cot incident are prevalent in other areas and are more common than we are told. Without the proper oversight, whether by T&CP or some other Government entity, it is very likely this will happen again. To ignore this fact is irresponsible. It almost borders on the criminal how this situation was address and shows an existing lack of accountability.

  24. John

    greg_or
    March 4, 2009 at 4:12 am
    I know that David Brooks is pushing the point of accountability 25+ years ago and this can be something of a red-herring, but lets use it as a model. Today we have the duly elected member for St. Thomas being highlighted as a person whom is/was constructing a residence in Vault Road, in an area T&CP had refused existing residents from adding a shed-roof to their homes sighting protection issues for the Caves of Barbados (we don’t know the extents of the caves). Will this be another Arch Cot 25+ years from now, without accountability?
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    I passed and had a look the day I saw it in the paper.

    The excavation is right on the boundary of the Scotland and Limestone areas, at the northern end of Vault Road.

    The excavation was done right up to Vault Road.

    It looks like no Limestone was present in what was removed.

    The excavation extended down almost to the road to Welchman Hall, a significant drop.

    Need to pass back and see what’s what.

    There was a soak away on the northern boundary of the neighbours property to the south, … not a good sign for the Scotland District.

  25. Hans G. Machel

    Hi David Brooks, everyone

    As far as I know, (I am not exactly an insider to Barbadian laws but must accept what insiders tell me), you are correct in stating that T&CP would have had no say in how the structure (of the ill-fated house) was build. But this is besides the point I made: the house should not have been built on top of the cave in the first place.

    The issue becomes complicated by consideration of what can be proved in a Court of Law. I am commenting in more detail on responsibility and culpability in another article that I am preparing for the Sunday March-15-2009 issue of the Advocate. This article is intended to complement my and Richard Goddard’s March-01 and March-08 articles in the Advocate, which you may view as a package. If the Advocate does not accept my latest submission, I will submit it to BFP.

    Hans G. Machel

  26. Pingback: Barbados Government Cover-Up - No Inquest Into Codrington Family Deaths - Home Collapsed Into Known Cave « Barbados Free Press

  27. Pingback: Two Different Messages: Barbados Ambassador To USA Sounds Alarm Over Tax Haven Crackdown – Barbados Prime Minister Says We Shouldn’t Be Concerned « Barbados Free Press

  28. That was some illustrative read

  29. Weihnachtsgeschenke

    That was very scholastic writing…