ROSEAU – The death toll from Hurricane Maria in Dominica has risen to at least 27, with another 27 people confirmed missing, Police Chief Daniel Carbon has disclosed.
He also reported that in the aftermath of the Category 5 hurricane which devastated the Eastern Caribbean island last Monday, looting had been a problem facing lawmen, with one looter being shot by police. That individual was hospitalized as a result.
There was also a prison break on Sunday, in which four people escaped. Two of them were shot and apprehended by police while the others remain on the run.
However, Carbon assured the crime situation was not out of hand and that lawmen had cracked down on offenders.
“The police force was very challenged both as it relates to search and recovery and massive looting but we now have the situation under control,” he said at a press conference yesterday, adding that security personnel from the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, the Barbados Defence Force, the Royal Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force, and the Regional Security System have helped get a grip on the situation.
Up to yesterday, 86 people who violated the 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew imposed after the storm’s passage had been arrested, while there were 40 arrests in relation to other matters.
Meantime, in a radio address today, President Charles Savarin condemned the looting taking place in parts of the country, stressing that those culprits were making a difficult situation worse.
He said thieves had prevented the Dominica Water and Sewerage Company Limited from restoring water service to a section of the island on Sunday when they broke into the storeroom and stole 1,000-gallon water tanks, generators, pumps, tools and saws.
“Some of these have been recovered. Those responsible were not seeking food to feed themselves and their families, but were engaged in criminal activities of the worst kind,” Savarin said.
“There are similar activities elsewhere, where business places, containers and warehouses which were not damaged by Hurricane Maria were broken into and looted. I call on all community leaders, the churches, service clubs, NGOs, parliamentary representatives and other Members of Parliament and leaders of trade unions to join me in condemning this criminal behaviour.”
Savarin stressed that this kind of lawlessness only causes more harm and distress to those who have survived and to those who want to help the country.