ST.VINCENT-TRAGEDY-St. Vincent prepares to bury Rock Gutter tragedy victims

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Jan 16, CMC – The community of Fancy in north eastern St. Vincent is preparing to bury five students killed in a vehicular accident on Monday as the government reassured the nation that the search would continue for the two other students still missing at sea.

“We will persist in this exercise until we find them, or until the professionals, in consultation with the families, consider otherwise,” Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said in a radio broadcast.

Teams have been searching for the missing students ever since the minibus, carrying at least 14 students, plunged into the sea on Monday.

Officials have confirmed that five people died, and 10 others hospitalised as a result of the accident.

The Ministry of Health said seven people, including three children remain hospitalised at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, the nation’s main healthcare facility.

Prime Minister Gonsalves told the nation that the families of the dead students have asked for a single funeral and burial ceremony, which has been tentatively set for Sunday, January 25 at the Fancy Hardcourt.

Gonsalves said that the students might be buried at a new cemetery in Fancy, if the requisite legal and procedural formalities are completed in time.

“All the requisite formal and procedural arrangements are being made to give practical effect to this selection and to have the site consecrated, hopefully prior to the funeral on Sunday January 25th.”

He said he has been in communication with the grieving families, the survivors and the community and attended the “Third Night” observance at the Fancy Government School on Wednesday.

Gonsalves said at the observance, the community accepted the suggestion that a national day of mourning not be declared until the two missing students are found or the search and rescue operation called off.

He said that flags will continue to be flown at half-mast until further notice.

The Prime Minister said he had “several solemn commitments to the families of all the students who were in the minibus and to the surviving students in respect to their care, comfort and education right up the university level.

“I will announce these measures in Parliament shortly, at the appropriate time,” Gonsalves said, adding that his government will spare no effort or expense in respect of the medical treatment in St. Vincent and the Grenadines or abroad of the survivors.

“Our entire nation is so happy that they are alive and is so anxious, we are quite anxious to see them restored to full health as soon as practicable,” he said.

Gonsalves said arrangements are being made in respect of a replacement school bus to transport students from Fancy.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gonsalves said that the 2015 budget, which was due to have been delivered on Monday, will now take place on January 28.

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