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Tragic fire in Guyanese Dormitory, 19 lives lost

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

 

 

#Guyana, May 30, 2023 – Hearts are aching for the tragic loss of 19 children in a deadly school dormitory fire in Guyana, which a female student is suspected to have started after her cell phone was taken away by the dorm’s mother and a teacher according to a police statement.

The fire started while students were asleep;  several of them were woken up by screams, according to the police.

It destroyed the Mahdia Secondary School and the 19 lives lost include 18 girls and a young boy.

However, despite the fact that when the firefighters arrived the building was already engulfed in flames, they were able to rescue 20 students by breaking down part of the building’s north eastern wall.

During the fire, which started in the bathroom and then consumed the whole building, police say 57 female students were in the dormitory which they described as a flat concrete building measuring about 100 feet by 40 feet, with barred windows.

Also, the dorm is said to have been locked and had covered windows which would have trapped the students.

However, authorities have not revealed whether the students had difficulty evacuating the building; but it is reported that the dorm administrator – who is suffering the loss of her five year old son, couldn’t locate the keys to unlock the door due to panic.

Those injured as well as those who died, mostly indigenous girls, as the school housed children from indigenous communities from the wider area, were taken to the hospital, some of them still in serious condition.

The teenage suspect, is also currently hospitalized with burns, is accused of threatening her attack after she was confronted and disciplined for being in a relationship with an older man, as reported by the Associated Press, hence the possible reason her phone was taken.

Authorities are now taking advice on whether to charge her, according to a government source who spoke to the AFP news agency.

Local Guyanese media reports that the blaze, which firefighters took over three hours to contain, was so severe that DNA testing was needed to identify some of the victims.

Mohamed Ifran Ali, Guyana’s President has declared three days of national mourning in response to the tragedy that occurred on Sunday May 21st, 2023.

Caribbean News

NATIONAL SECURITY SECRETARIAT INFORMATION NOTE ISSUED MAY 17, 2024

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May 21, 2024 – The Turks and Caicos Islands have clear laws prohibiting the possession of firearms and or ammunition without a licence and strict penalties in order to serve and protect the community. Our Firearms Ordinance, which was amended in 2022, states that:

No person (other than a licensed gunsmith in the course of his trade) shall have in his possession, discharge or use any firearm or ammunition unless he is the holder of a firearm licence with respect to such firearm, or in case of ammunition he is the holder of a licence for a firearm which takes that ammunition.

Firearm and/or ammunition offences carry a mandatory minimum custodial sentence of twelve years plus a fine. Where a court finds there are exceptional circumstances, the sentencing judge has discretion, under the law, to impose a custodial sentence and a fine that are fair and just in the circumstances of each case rather than impose the mandatory minimum.

The Chief Justice is advancing sentencing guidelines in respect of the application of exceptional circumstances. Wider work is also ongoing with criminal justice partners to review the efficiency and effectiveness of case progression, in driving justice outcomes.

It is the traveller’s responsibility to ensure their baggage is free of firearms and/or ammunition. Permission from an airline carrier does not constitute permission to bring firearms or ammunition into the Turks and Caicos Islands. Travellers are also strongly advised to search their luggage before they travel to the Turks and Caicos Islands to ensure they do not bring in forbidden items inadvertently. Such offences will result in arrest.

The Turks and Caicos Islands is a British Overseas Territory with a common law legal system, and reserves the right to enforce its laws. All persons, including visitors, must follow lawful process.

The Turks and Caicos Islands welcomes all visitors but reminds travellers that persons in the Turks and Caicos Islands do not have a constitutional right to carry firearms. Equally, the importation of firearms, ammunition (including stray bullets), and other weapons is strictly forbidden, unless licence to do so has been issued by the Commissioner of Police.

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Caribbean News

CTO to Focus on Aviation at Caribbean Week in New York

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New York (May 16, 2024) – Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is set to spotlight the future of Caribbean aviation during Caribbean Week in New York, scheduled for June 16-21, 2024, at the InterContinental Times Square in midtown Manhattan.

Under CTO’s annual theme “Connecting the Globe, Celebrating Diversity”, the week promises a diverse lineup of activities emphasizing innovation and connectivity.

A key feature of the premier event for travel industry professionals, journalists and members of the Caribbean Diaspora will be the Caribbean Airlift Forum.

Rosa Harris, Chairman of the CTO Board of Directors and Spokesperson for Caribbean Week, will moderate the forum. She emphasized the importance of this session as a critical platform for discussing the challenges and opportunities in Caribbean air transportation.

The session will cover topics including route development, aviation competitiveness, partnerships, infrastructure investment, regulatory frameworks, and market demand strategies. It aims to foster dialogue among airlines, airports, tourism authorities, and aviation ministries, enhancing connectivity and optimizing access to Caribbean destinations.

“In the wake of the pandemic, Caribbean aviation has shown remarkable resilience and adaptability, rebounding strongly in key areas. However, as we celebrate these gains during our Caribbean Week in New York, it’s crucial that we don’t become complacent,” stated Harris.

“We must continue to innovate and address the persistent challenges within intra-regional tourism, which, while recovering, remains a challenge for many of our destinations,” she continued. “Our focus at the Caribbean Airlift Forum is not only on celebrating our successes but also on critically analyzing our challenges to strengthen and diversify our connections to, from and across the region, ensuring a more robust and connected Caribbean.”

The week also features a Business and Tourism Marketing Symposium, the Caribbean Media Awards, and sessions focused on artificial intelligence, crisis communications, and multicultural marketing.

With the support of headline sponsor, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation; gold sponsors Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and the United States Virgin Islands Department of Tourism; and Diamonds International and the Caribbean Media Exchange, Caribbean Week in New York 2024 is poised to be a pivotal meeting for tourism professionals and stakeholders in the region and the Diaspora.

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CHTA Launches Multi-Destination Media Trip to Showcase Caribbean Interconnectivity and Diversity

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May 21, 2024

 

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is gearing up for its first multi-destination media trip, designed to illuminate the interconnectedness and diversity across the Caribbean. Scheduled from May 17 to 27, this initiative will showcase the vibrant cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and unique experiences spanning St. Lucia, Barbados, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

Nicola Madden-Greig, President of CHTA, expressed enthusiasm for the program and stressed its significance: “This initiative is a testament to the collaborative spirit and interconnected nature that define Caribbean tourism. Our goal is to showcase the diverse offerings of St. Lucia, Barbados, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, inspiring travelers to explore the myriad experiences our region has to offer.” Although the Dominican Republic had to withdraw due to unforeseen circumstances, there are plans to include the nation in future endeavors of this nature.

Madden-Greig reiterated, “The Caribbean is often thought of as one homogenous place, so if you have seen one island you have seen the Caribbean. This trip will debunk that myth and truly showcase the diversity, mystique, and cultural prowess of our distinct islands. Just like you can explore many destinations in Europe having totally diverse experiences, the Caribbean offers the same opportunity.”

Developed in collaboration with the Jamaica Tourist Board, Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, and Cayman Islands Tourism Association, the itinerary promises an immersive experience. Participants will enjoy the stunning landscapes and beaches of St. Lucia, indulge in an exciting layover in Barbados, discover the culture and radiant beauty of Jamaica, and experience the iconic sites of the Cayman Islands.

Strategically timed to coincide with Caribbean Travel Marketplace from May 21 to 23 in Jamaica, the media trip aims to maximize the event’s networking opportunities. Journalists can enrich their coverage of the multi-destination experience with insights and connections from the region’s premier tourism conference.

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