‘Worst human disaster’

Lutchmedial yesterday recalled with horror the ordeal which saw him come close to losing his life during what he described as “the worst human disaster possible.” More than 50,000 died in the disaster. In a brief interview from Jamaica, where he was flown to from Haiti by a military aircraft on Wednesday evening, Lutchmedial said he was too traumatised to detail what he saw in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

“I only just made it,” Lutchmedial said. “I’m too emotional right now. I’m so traumatised by what I have seen.”

Lutchmedial was in Haiti for a Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System meeting. He left Trinidad on Monday, flew to Miami and then got a connecting flight to Haiti on Tuesday. According to Lutchmedial’s family he had an early flight to Haiti but delayed it. The meeting, carded to take place at a hotel in Port-au-Prince, was due to be attended by representatives from other Caricom countries. It never took place. While in a bus to the hotel, the earthquake struck Port-au-Prince.

Before leaving Trinidad, Lutchmedial informed his family that he had no intentions of leaving the hotel given the troubled conditions in Haiti. He was lucky he never kept his promise. When the bus transporting some of the parties for the meeting arrived at the hotel it was totally destroyed. Some parties for the meeting, who had travelled ahead, were assumed to be inside.

Lutchmedial recalled with horror the sights in Port-au-Prince.

“I saw the worst human disaster possible,” he said. After spending Tuesday evening in a tennis court, he was transported to Jamaica in a military aircraft on Wednesday. Up until yesterday his family said he is expected to arrive in Trinidad this evening, but plans may have to be pushed back as several members of the delegation remained unaccounted for in Haiti. Lutchmedial is a father of four sons: health and safety officer Shiva, 34, aeronautical engineer Ravi, 36, airline operations agent Avinash, 26, and medical student Vaalmiki, 24. At the family home in Cunupia, members of the family counted themselves lucky.

Ramesh’s wife, Mavis, declined to be interviewed. Family members said she had been “devastated” when she first heard about the earthquake, but was then relieved after receiving word that her husband was alive.

Avinash said yesterday the family only got to speak with Lutchmedial briefly on Tuesday evening and was in contact with him yesterday.

“He left on Monday. Originally he had an early flight to Haiti which would probably have put him in the hotel at the time of the earthquake. From what information we got the drive to the hotel that was supposed to be only 10 minutes turned out to be half an hour. When they finally got to the hotel, the hotel was completely destroyed.”

“The driver said he’d take them to his house. When the driver arrived at his house, his house was destroyed, so they spent the night in a tennis court. Afterwards their goal was to get everyone together and then they made it to the US Embassy where we were able to speak to him for roughly thirty seconds.”

“I asked him only two things: if he was injured—he said no, if he was safe–he said yes,” Avinash said.


"‘Worst human disaster’"

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