Quarry explosion victim recovering at home – but findings into cause of blast remain elusive  

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Gregson Joseph suffered third degree burns to his arms, among other injuries (Photos contributed)
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By Gemma Handy

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A father-of-three who suffered excruciating burns in a freak explosion at Burma quarry last month has spoken out for the first time since the incident.

Gregson Joseph was discharged from hospital last week after spending more than two weeks at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre.

The 44-year-old truck driver was left with third degree burns to his arms and severe injuries to his legs and face after being asked to help light a fire in the vicinity of explosive materials at his workplace on June 26.

He is now back home in Potters where he lives with his partner and young daughter, and is receiving outpatient treatment from the hospital.

Joseph has been prescribed painkillers and antibiotics to ease the agony and fight infection.

“I’ve been going back and forth from the hospital every morning to change my bandages and get my hands cleaned,” he told Observer.

“I am itching and stinging because the skin is starting to come back. My hands are still swollen; I have to hold them up.”

Joseph, who has worked for the government for almost six years and has been based at the quarry for the last five months, said he doesn’t yet know how long he will be off work.

Ministry officials have been assisting him with transport to and from hospital and other small tasks since the accident.

The incident triggered alarm about lax safety measures at the quarry where stone is extracted for road building.

Both Information Minister Melford Nicholas and the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Lionel Hurst previously told media that an investigation into the cause of the explosion is underway – and promised that the findings will be made public.

But Joseph said he has still not been questioned about what happened that day.

“They asked me to light a fire for the garbage in the hole,” he recalled. “There was a box involved with the garbage which I guess had residue of gunpowder for the blast to go off on the hill.

“It happened very fast, like if you light fireworks.”

He added, “I haven’t heard of any investigation report and haven’t seen one either. I think they should have got back to me and given me a copy of the report if they have it.”

Joseph was also asked what lessons he thinks should be learned to prevent similar accidents in the future.

“They need to be more careful with what they dispose of – and have the proper gear to have on just in case anything goes wrong.

“People who are responsible for these explosives, I think they should be more involved when disposing of those things,” he added.

Neither Director of Public Works Alden Crump or Minister Maria Browne have responded to repeated requests from Observer for comment. Minister Browne’s permanent secretary also failed to respond.

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