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Three die in deadly twister

A deadly twister ripped through the Freeport Container Port on March 29, killing three workers and causing significant damage.

A second twister, which touched down in the Lucaya area, damaged homes, uprooted trees and frightened residents.

The tornado that hit the Freeport Container Port tossed cranes weighing hundreds of tons like toys and spawned widespread controversy over the effectiveness of early warning systems at the Department of Meteorology, which should have detected such extreme weather conditions and disseminated information accordingly.

In the weeks following the twister, the families of Cleveland Lowe, 45; Michael Young, 41 and Shawn Saunders, 23, waited weeks to find out who, if anyone, would be held responsible for neglecting to issue a warning to them.

The men were working on a crane when the tornado hurled the giant steel structure into the water.

Some individuals blamed Container Port officials for allegedly failing to put in place proper safety measures for extreme weather conditions, while others blamed the met office for failing to forewarn the island.

In the aftermath, the Progressive Liberal Party(PLP)pointed fingers at the minister with responsibility for the Department of Meteorology, Dr. Earl Deveaux, who they accused of ignoring his ministerial duty to reopen the Grand Bahama Meteorology Office, which was shut down last year.

Two separate investigations were launched into the incident. The Department of Labour completed an investigation into the met office, finding several meteorologists culpable for not carrying out their duty to issue a severe weather warning.

However, it was further decided that an investigation was needed by an independent party with no ties to the government or the Freeport Container Port.

In July, Labour Minister Dion Foulkes released the findings of a report compiled by an expert from the International Labour Organization.

Despite finding major shortcomings, deficiencies and downfalls at the Container Port, occupational health and safety expert Jacques Obadia said it is unclear if the deaths and injuries that occurred during the tornado could have been avoided.

The report also made several recommendations to the government, such as developing a set of technical regulations defining occupational health and safety requirements for particular occupations and expanding the occupationalhealth and safety training of labor inspectors.

Business had to be turned away from the container port for days after the tornado passed through.

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