St Lucia in three days mourning for 17 accident victims

St Lucia is observing three days of national mourning following the Thursday evening accident in which a bus coming from a funeral went over a cliff and plunged into the sea killing 17 people including an infant and a pregnant woman.

The accident was the worst in the history of the eastern Caribbean island. The St Lucian Cabinet met on Friday and ordered all flags on government buildings and business places to be flown at half mast and all political and public social events be suspended during the period of national mourning from last Friday to today. Today was also declared a national day of remembrance and an ecumenical service was scheduled for the Desruisseaux Roman Catholic Church.

The accident occurred in the Choiseul community of Morne Sion on Thursday night at around 7:45 pm. Police said a bus driven by 47-year-old Michael Alexander of Micoud veered off the road and plunged off a cliff into the sea. Occupants of the bus were reportedly making their way home from a wake in the community of Delcer in Choiseul.

In the wake of the accident, there have been calls by several politicians for the cancellation of the November 28 general elections in that country and rescheduling of it for early 2012.

Helen Television Systems (HTS) in St Lucia reported that Alexander’s wife, Sallyand Stephen, his 24-year-old son and the youth’s girlfriend, another 5-year-old son, Michealette Alexander, daughter Anelsha Mayers and baby daughter, Micheala Alexander, were among those who perished in the accident.

Petra Charles told HTS that she lost her brother Johnny Junior Marie – his three children, his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s four children – in all a nine-member family. The surviving twin says the two shared a special connection. George Florence lost his wife of 11 years – Jacinta Florence. He and his stepdaughter, his wife’s only child, said they are finding it difficult coming to terms with their loss, HTS reported.

The TV station reported that law enforcement officials confirmed all the victims were from the close knit East Coast community of Dugard Micoud which is also the hometown of West Indies Captain Darren Sammy. Police Press Relations Officer, Corporal Trevor Constantine said while the investigation into the accident is still in the preliminary phase, initial reports indicate the driver was unfamiliar with the road.

HTS reported that the St Lucian government has begun putting measures in place to support and comfort the bereaved including provision of counselling to students of the affected schools. The division of human services has also made arrangements to provide similar services to the affected households, families and communities.

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