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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Wednesday December 21, 2011 - Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said she will order a review of homes operated by the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) after four people and an unborn baby died in an apartment fire yesterday morning.
“Everyone of these building must be examined. It must be done as fast as possible so if a tragedy were to occur (again), there will be some way to escape,” Persad-Bissessar said yesterday after visiting the Laventille site.
Seven people were hospitalized in serious condition following the suspected arson attack that eyewitnesses said was caused by a family squabble over home ownership.
Some fell to their death after jumping several hundred feet to escape the inferno at the five-storey state-owned apartment building that did not have any fire escapes. A 10-month old and a two-year old were among the victims. Curtis Hyde, 34, who was injured in the fire, told the Trinidad Express newspaper: “I heard my wife bawling, bawling, bawling out my name and I was trying my best to reach her and no matter how hard I tried, I could not reach her because there was fire everywhere. That is hell.”
The prime minister said Cabinet will decide on funding for the installation of fire escapes at HDC buildings that were designed for low-income families.
Corporation Chairman Jearlean John said up to three months rent-free accommodations will be provided to 20 families in need of relocation.