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Friday Night Explosion Rattles City

Posted By: Marty

Friday Night Explosion Rattles City - 12/01/09 02:52 PM

There was an explosion near downtown Belize City on Friday night. It wasn’t a grenade but the blast which occurred on North Front Street reverberated through the entire downtown area – rattling the city. Jacqueline Godwin has more.

Jacqueline Godwin Reporting,
This is all that remains of the Ardent, a fishing vessel that was anchored in the Belize City harbour for the past two days. The boat valued at sixty thousand Belize dollars was completely destroyed after it exploded. While it is truly amazing that nearby vessels were not damaged residents who live in the surrounding area especially along the river front and southern foreshore were suddenly awakened around ten thirty on Friday night by the vibrations caused by the shock waves that followed the explosion.

Jacqueline Godwin,
“When you heard the loud noise, did the building shake?”

Michael Cain, Watchman in the area
“Everything shake. These people’s pictures off the wall, everything drop.”

Jacqueline Godwin,
“And that’s at the Image Factory?”

Michael Cain,
“Yes. And in the alley a lot of houses shake, all across way up to King Street.”

Jacqueline Godwin,
“Were you scared?”

Michael Cain,
“I was. I didn’t know what it was.”

As most of the boat was blown up to bits wooden pieces from the vessel littered the concrete dock and adjacent yards. Police say luckily no one was injured and investigations suggest there was no one on the boat at the time.

But what caused the ardent to explode? The boat owner Jaime Sosa Sr. was home in Sartenja Village in the Corozal District when he was informed about the incident. Today 7News caught up with the long time fisherman at the scene where he had returned to collect whatever was left from his boat. Like this container that was used to store fish and ice.

Jaime Sosa Sr., Boat Owner
“They called me like ten thirty, around ten thirty. They told me that my boat had already exploded. Me and my two sons went driving down to Belize City to see what had happened. When we reached there, we only found pieces of our boat, right like how it is right now. There were police standing there and the thing I did not I like, they did not let me pick up my things that were floating. I had already lost my boat.”

Fire fighters have investigated the incident and determined that there was a leak in the line attached to the regulator valve. It ruptured and caused the explosion but they have been unable to ascertain the initial source of the ignition. Police did detain a man nicknamed Baygon who was the caretaker of the ardent, a person who the owner suspects may be responsible but he is not sure and there is no evidence to support it.

The boat owner said he usually pays the caretaker fifty dollars to watch his boat for two nights but when he did not show up for the day before the explosion he did not allow him on the fishing vessel.

Jaime Sosa Sr.,
“There had to be a flame so that the gas, butane gas exploded. The man that was on the boat went and opened the valve of the butane tank. I left my watchman Wednesday night, eleven ‘o clock Wednesday. On Thursday morning I did not see my watchman he wasn’t there so I did not order him to go inside my boat obviously he destroyed my boat. The watchman, I know him only as Baygon.”

The caretaker has since been released by police and the boat owner despite his substantial loss will not legally pursue the matter.

Jaime Sosa Sr.,
“I do not have another boat, it was my only boat. I will suffer now, I cannot do nothing, I cannot go and charge the man who destroyed my boat because he is poor like me. Maybe it was an accident, I do not think it was intentional.”

A man was seen in the water shortly after the explosion. He managed to swim safely to shore and seen quickly leaving the area but the identity of that man remains unknown and whether he is connected to the incident.

Michael Cain,
“They say a man was in the water. When I looked I saw the man coming out of the water.”

Jacqueline Godwin,
“How did he look to you?”

Michael Cain,
“Well I didn’t look at him very carefully but what I did notice was that he was all wet up. So I didn’t pay that no attention.”

Jaime Sosa Sr. says the ardent was fairly new he had purchased it only two years and six months. The boat and its contents were not insured. Reporting for 7News Jacqueline Godwin.

The Police Department has received an interim report from the Fire Department on their investigation into what may have caused the vessel to explode. The explosion, according to the report is believed to have been as a result of a leak from a fuel tank within the vessel which was ultimately ignited by an unknown source. Police investigation is ongoing.

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