Fireworks display cancelled; injured soldiers were experts in handling explosives – President

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The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) has cancelled the fireworks display, which was slated for Saturday night to ring in Guyana’s 50th Republic anniversary celebrations, following an explosion at the Coast Guard base in Riverview, Ruimveldt, Georgetown.

Soldiers in the 21 Artillery Company were offloading the explosives from the truck to a pontoon Saturday and following the explosion eight are hospitalised – four for trauma injuries and four with burns about the body

The Force Medical Officer Nigel Langhorne confirmed to the media at the Georgetown Public Hospital that one of the injured soldiers is in a critical condition after he suffered burns to over 90% of his body.

After visiting the scene of the explosion, Commander-in-Chief and President of Guyana, David Granger visited the GPHC where he met with the relatives of the injured ranks.

The burnt truck at the scene of the explosion [News Room photo]
In comments to the media after, the President said that the injured soldiers were experts in handling explosives and were even part of the fireworks team in Barbados in 2016 when they celebrated their 50th Independence.

“These are not untrained, these are expert people who have been doing this over and over again. The ammunition was imported from overseas…

“We’ve always applied the best safety measures to ensure that soldiers’ lives are not in jeopardy and we are trying to get to the bottom of it…” Granger told reporters.

He said it could have been one faulty bomb that triggered the explosion.

“It is completely unexpected, particularly because of the level of training and the professionalism of the soldiers involved…One bomb and it might have triggered a chain effect, so it’s not as though there any sort of carelessness, there might be some fault with one bomb,” the Commander-in-Chief explained.

Meanwhile, Chief of Staff of the Force Brigadier Patrick West said he has ordered a Board of Inquiry to investigate the circumstances of the incident.

He said the rehearsals of the fireworks Friday night was well done but some “challenges” were encountered Saturday.

The explosion occurred at around 13:30hrs.

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