Expert: Arch Cot Cave-In Victims May Have Been Killed By Wrong Decisions, Actions and Inaction By Barbados Emergency Officials

“… The rescue team took several hours to arrive at the scene, and hardly anything was done for several more hours. These were the most crucial hours to save lives, yet they passed with nary anything being done! In the Barbados Advocate from January 8, 2009, Major Binks, the leader of the rescue team, is reported to have spent the first 26 (!) hours looking down at the hole and, in his own words, ‘ended-up as the on-scene supervisor’.”

barbados-cave-deaths“We were stunned when we learnt how the rescue operation was conducted, specifically, that the southern part of the ill-fated house/building, the one that had survived the initial cave collapse, was bulldozed only about 2 days after the cave collapse right on top of the part that had already gone down. If somebody was still alive at that time under the rubble..”

“… experience from places with frequent earthquakes, such as Turkey or Japan or China, tells us that the way to proceed is to remove the rubble from collapsed buildings by forming human chains as soon as possible, and to carry out the rubble piece-by-piece as fast as possible. Surely the larger rubble and fragments of the collapsed house would have been too heavy to move by hand. But most of the smaller rubble could have been carried out in this fashion within a few hours, aided by lifting the larger pieces with cranes… Such hand-and-foot operations have pulled out victims alive in periods ranging from a few hours to several days… up to a week later…”

… from the March 15, 2009 Barbados Advocate article Responsibility and Culpability in the Brittons Hill – Arch Cot Cave Collapse by Prof. Hans G. Machel and Richard Goddard (download the article at the bottom of this page)

Barbados Advocate Article Reveals More About Codrington Deaths – But Still Hides Details From The Public

There are many villains who must bear responsibility for the deaths of an entire Barbados family whose members died after their house fell into a collapsing cave at Arch Cot. Horrifically, we know that members of the Codrington family did not die all at the same time. As he was trapped in the rubble, Donavere (the father) talked to people at the scene after the initial event. Some of the children could be heard screaming for a time.

Although we have been denied a public inquest by two successive governments, Bajans now know some of what happened thanks to the efforts of Hans Machel, Richard Goddard and a handful of others who, unlike Barbados politicians, still care about the truth and the public good. No thanks to the professional Barbados news media who are (or were, in the case of the Barbados Advocate) part of the cover-up to protect the members of the Bajan nobility who murdered the Codringtons.


Yes, Murdered.

The five Codringtons were murdered just as surely as if someone had put a gun to their heads and pulled the trigger – especially in the crimes that were committed when the ticking-time-bomb of a house was built upon a known cave.

Started Cover-Up

Started Cover-Up

“It could have happened to anyone” said then-Attorney General Dale Marshall before the bodies had even been pulled from the rubble.

Yes, of course it could have happened to anyone in Barbados with people like Dale Marshall in positions of power and authority – who are part of and responsible for the corrupt public institutions that issued the building permits and failed in their duty to protect innocent citizens.

Cricket Parties & Rotten Hotels Instead Of Highly Trained, Well-Equipped Rescue Personnel

It could have happened to anyone because our leaders would rather spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a cricket party or worn-out rotten hotels while our fire fighters use hand-me-down, worn and obsolete equipment donated from New York and Canada. It could have happened to anyone because our leaders would rather rub elbows in Zurich and New York City and disguise London shopping holidays as government working trips rather than send our emergency personnel for a month of real training in the USA. It could have happened to anyone because our leaders expend their energies padding their offshore bank accounts and building homes in Barbados, Miami and London instead of devoting themselves to the public interest.

Cricket Parties, but no money for Rescue Team

Cricket Parties, but no money for Rescue Team

Our emergency personnel, Major Binks included, did the best they could with what little training and equipment they had. Were I a firefighter, police officer, military man or with other emergency services in Barbados I would go to bed every night cursing the names of the damned politicians and bureaucrats who refused to purchase modern thermal imaging equipment that can locate victims but have no trouble leasing BMWs and Mercedes for Cabinet Ministers.

Dale Marshall, Owen Arthur, Mia Mottley and others of the BLP and DLP political and business elites were part of the cover-up right from the start and it continues to this day with the David Thompson DLP government.

Rule of law? Public accountability? Transparency? To generations of Barbados politicians these terms are nothing except words to be dangled as electoral bait, a means to an end.

And now it comes to this. Five people died because Barbados does not obey or have the rule of law. Five people died because we have no standards and we ignore what few standards that we do have. And some of the Codringtons may have also died because our leadership provides the bare minimum in funding, training and equipment to our emergency services and then leaves them holding the bag when it all goes wrong.

Name The Names! If Government Won’t Hold A Public Enquiry, The People Must.

Even the Barbados Advocate who should at least be thanked for finally printing a series of stories a year and a half late (and only after Barbados Free Press started the series) still refuses to name names. In this latest article, the person who built the house is called “the person who had the ill-fated house built”. The original owner of the lot is called “the owner”. The surveyor called to examine the cave in the days before the murders is called “the surveyor”. The person who gave the go-ahead to continue construction four days before the murders is called “someone with technical knowledge” and on and on and on.

Continues Cover-Up & No Public Inquest

Continues Cover-Up & No Public Inquest

Prime Minister Thompson: Show some leadership. Stop the damned cover-up whatever the cost. Bajans don’t want “sacrificial lambs” or false promises and excuses. We want true accountability for those responsible and a thorough and public enquiry so we can all understand which individuals and what systemic faults caused or contributed to this tragedy at every level. And then we want REAL CHANGE.

Dammit, Prime Minister Thompson. Show some integrity and some leadership.

Further Reading

March 15, 2009 Barbados Advocate article Responsibility and Culpability in the Brittons Hill – Arch Cot Cave Collapse

JPGs 300k each: page 1 20090315_p32 page 2 Barbados Collapse Deaths


Filed under Barbados

26 responses to “Expert: Arch Cot Cave-In Victims May Have Been Killed By Wrong Decisions, Actions and Inaction By Barbados Emergency Officials

  1. PiedPiper

    Unless there was a natural gas line rupture, I fail to see what other fancy, new-fangled equipment would have been required if someone had just shown some courage and gumption. This was a critical emergency situation. Did the rescue crew not at least have ropes and harnesses? Why did they not send men on ropes down the hole to assess what could be done? Emergency planners are supposed to know where all available heavy equipment such as cranes and back hoes are in case of just such emergencies as this one. Did anyone contact any of the construction sites currently on the go in Barbados and order them to bring all heavy equipment? So many questions that will never get answered unless there is an inquest.

  2. Not Hired

    ITA even laymen would probably have jumped in there given the chance. Despite the greedy and evil hearted this country is full of good honest salt of the earth people that would do anything to help, I know that for sure.

  3. Jukecheckedeyskirt

    The Codringtons are not from any of the high-foluted families in Barbados. Be it any other family of recognition, fame and fortune the scene would be different. Just drop it BFP, no inquiry will be conducted. The only way anything can be done is if Bajans stage major protest action and a storming of Government head quarters against this callousness

  4. Tell me Why

    BFP et al

    The death of the Codrington’s family is a tragic event that will haunt Barbadians for a long time especially those living at the border of cliffs. I am sick of your nonsense regarding your constant harping that the delay could be the factor in the death of the family. Even if the Dale County Rescue team were located by the St. Paul’s School, the final episode would be the same. Remember the Benn guy who live a few yards from the actual caved in said that he heard soft voices a few minutes after the caved in……..BUT, and I emphasised the big “BUT”. He said within a flash, a massive boulder felled and the voices were no more. BFP, supposed rescued personnel had arrived and descended in the hole and that big boulder along with the car and garage felled whilst these guys were in the hole, what would be your excused. Don’t you think we would be mourning more than the five Codringtons? Machel could be right regarding the danger with this building over a known a cave and the construction that was being carried out within the precinct of the said cave, but we must remove speculation and blame just to gain popularity. Let’s look at this calamity as an eye opener and ensure that people living around caves are not disadvantaged. Peace.

  5. BFP

    Oh well… no need for an inquest then because “Tell Me Why” has provided the full story anonymously on BFP.

    Now… why is it that the death certificates were dated two days later then?

  6. Tell me Why

    Oh well… no need for an inquest then because “Tell Me Why” has provided the full story anonymously on BFP.
    In my statement did you see anything regarding my opposition against an inquest? All that I am saying, based on statements by someone who lived and is still living in the area and the realistic synopsis of the earth giving away under you. I am not vocal on biblical arguments, but I feel you should be asking “Lord, why the Codringtons and why not a wealthy home owner with a 2 million home? Your thoughts BFP.

    By the way, who issue Death Certificates? Is it the job of a Government Minister including the Prime Minister? Why are you trying to blame the present Prime Minister, what on earth can he do, replay the entire issue and save the lives of the Codringtons?

    Your monologues for your stories are just like an octopus, touching everything just to reach a simple conclusion.

  7. johnboy

    i was at the site and every thing that could have been done was done .the big problem that people are not looking at is you do not want to add to the body count the houses on both side were moving . i think the problem is that we in barbados like to stand and watch and then when it is all over criticize those that stepped in to help .if you dont have any thing good to say or are willing to help please go away .

  8. Mike Ashby

    “Public ignorance can be a dreadful killer” (Machel & Goddard, the Barbados Advocate 3/15/09). I restate this because the situations that lead to this horrible event still exist in several other areas and therefore it is necessary for the public to let members of the past and present government know that some one is accountable. What is so heartbreaking about this incident is the lack of acknowledgment that something very wrong happened here. A small league ‘country’ touting itself as a big league player, well, this is a message to those in charge, in the big league, someone would have been held accountable and would have had to answer to five counts of criminally negligent homicide. This can also be applied to omissions. So they are now ON NOTICE, the next time this happens (and it is very likely it will) someone will have to pay.

  9. Scheherez

    Well then…

    “Tell Me Why” the police were sitting around drinking BEER when those people were DYING!

    “Tell Me Why” they never let the laypeople do gown there and SAVE them!

    “Tell Me Why” they had to wait a whole 24 hours for a FOREIGN team to come in!

    Looks like Tell Me Why can’t even TELL US HOW this travesty of a situation happened!

    And WE are supposed to aspire to FIRST WORLD STATUS?

    Heck, even the ENGLISH laugh at us when our flippin’ CRICKET COACH LOSES THE MATCH FOR US!!!!!


  10. Tell me Why

    Scheherez your reply were:

    “Tell Me Why” the police were sitting around drinking BEER when those people were DYING!
    Within minutes, the Benn guy was peeping over the fall-in, within seconds a massive boulder fell and stiffed the voices beneath.

    “Tell Me Why” they never let the laypeople do gown there and SAVE them!
    Are you insane? Do you expect lay people to go into a 100 feet cave with debris constantly falling. Were you looking for more deaths.

    “Tell Me Why” they had to wait a whole 24 hours for a FOREIGN team to come in!
    A dumb observation deserves a dumb answer. Maybe the foreign team we making sure that a recovery would be eminent.

    Looks like Tell Me Why can’t even TELL US HOW this travesty of a situation happened!
    Only the Lord knows. Who am I to judge.

    And WE are supposed to aspire to FIRST WORLD STATUS?
    Homes collapse throughout the world; Bridges collapse throughout the world; Buildings collapse throughout the world….so what ‘first world status’ has to do with Monday coming after Sunday. LOL!

    Heck, even the ENGLISH laugh at us when our flippin’ CRICKET COACH LOSES THE MATCH FOR US!!!!!

  11. Scheherez

    Uh, yeah…

    Within seconds…

    As I recall, there were several people who heard voices down in that cave UP TO 2 HOURS AFTERWARD!

    Yeah, “guvmunt groupie”, keep on cloaking…

    Are our police & army not trained for this? I’d think that they’d be trained for EVERY disaster POSSIBLE! Or maybe they were just trying to “save money…”

    Ok, if you say so.

  12. Mike Ashby


    This happened because The Barbados Government, The T&P Department and the BAPE do not see the underlying structural geology as an important consideration in the development of the growing surface infrastructure on the island.

    Yes, things fall down all over the world but there is follow-up and, sometimes, people are also held accountable. What has been done since this unfortunate event to ensure it does not happen again?

  13. cry from the grave

    To tell me why

    BFP harps and will keep harping because everybody waited till Monday morning before they did anything.

    They will keep harping because Donavere died August 28th not 26th.

    They will keep harping because they could not even determine who was who when they finally started pulling bodies out.

    They will keep harping because we still have clothing that stink with the smell of death.

    And they will keep going because even if you had wanted to accept that it was just a tragedy… the actions of the BLP and now DLP government prove that someone is responsible.

    Those ministers sat at Arch Cot everyday, drinking alcohol and eating up feasts donated by hotels and restaurants across Barbados. Then the BLP proceeded to use Arch Cot pictures and pictures of us greving all over their stinking manifesto and thats why they lost, because God don’t like ugly.

    Everyone one of them will suffer until they step up and do what is right.


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  19. permres

    In view of the news in this morning’s Nation, announcing an inquest into the Arch Cot Tragedy on October 18th, I have posted here to bring immediate attention to it.

    I trust this inquest will be asking Professor Machel to give evidence?

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