WHAT at first was thought to be a bomb attack outside the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain, which sent the nation’s security apparatus into full alert, was in the end, a false alarm. The “bomb attack” turned out to be underground T&TEC cables exploding.
Moments afte the explosion, social media was abuzz with news of a terror attack with some media houses running with this information, claiming police sources had confirmed “an incendiary device” similar to a molotov cocktail (a crude, homemade bomb) being detonated.
But National Security Minister Stuart Young, who was on the ground marshalling national security agents during the investigation phase, later confirmed to Newsday that the explosion was caused by the underground T&TEC cables. This too was later confirmed by the state utility in a press release.
Speaking at the Hall of Justice, Young confirmed an explosion took place at around 9.15 am under the pavement on the corner of Duke and Abercromby streets.
Minutes later, police cordoned off all streets within the area of the explosion and people in offices nearby were instructed to remain indoors until told to do otherwise.
Young who was near the court at the time of the explosion assisted in clearing Duke Street of pedestrians and coordinated with police at the scene to close off Abercromby Street.
While initial investigations were being undertaken by the Guard and Emergency Branch (GEB) Bomb Squad and the K9 Unit, staff at the court was evacuated. and mustered in Woodford Square. Prisoners inside the Hall of Justice were evacuated an hour after the explosion.
Young praised the various units of the TTPS, Fire Service, and TTEC for their fast response. “What T&TEC informed us is that at the same time of the explosion, in other parts of Port of Spain, the electricity service went down.
Both T&TEC and the Fire Service told us the explosion was underground. It appears to be a faulty electricity cable from T&TEC, so I am very thankful for that.
“Very thankful for the way people handled it, how they listened to the police when we were cordoning off the streets. What this shows us is that we have a working emergency response, yes there are things that can be improved, but I’m proud to say, from being on the ground, what I saw was a great response,” Young said.
T&TEC in its release said a cable caused “a small explosion” but the utility did not state the cause.
Deputy Mayor Hillan Morean confirmed that there were in fact electricity cables beneath the pavements outside the Hall of Justice. A crew from T&TEC led by its general manager Kelvin Ramsoom was at the scene investigating the explosion.