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PM Gonsalves appeals for aid as St Vincent pounded

By ALEXANDER BRUZUAL Tuesday, November 2 2010

THE AFTERMATH of Hurricane Tomas in St Vincent and Grenadines has forced its Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves to reach out to regional and international leaders for assistance to rebuild the country.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Prime Minister Gonsalves said the islands have been heavily hit and initial estimates placed physical damage at over EC$100 million (over TT$235 million) with a further estimate of US$25 million in damage (over TT$158 million) to the agricultural sector.

“The northern half of the island area was badly hit and that is where most of our crops are. There are no banana trees standing and no plantain crops. By and large all tree crops have stumbled out of their roots under the force of Tomas’ winds and our agriculture system is totally devastated,” Gonsalves said.

He noted that banana production employed more than 60 percent of the workforce on the island and accounted for more than 50 percent of the country’s merchandise exports.

“There are approximately 1,200 houses that have been damaged. Outside the city, the rural communities are without water and electricity. However, that should be fully restored in about five days,” Gonsalves said.

In light of this, he noted he had reached out to various Heads of States and monetary organisations including the World Bank, the European Union, Cuba, Venezuela and as far as the Republic of China for assistance.

He said that he has spoken to TT Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar earlier in the day and she expressed solidarity with his nation promising to do her best to assist.

“I spoke to Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar earlier today while she was on tour of the devastation caused by Tomas in Tobago. She said she would try her best, and later today, I am supposed to write an official letter seeking assistance to her,” Gonsalves revealed.

“Right now, our main focus is to get houses built, to provide shelter for our citizens. Following that we have to get our agriculture system going again.

“And it is for these causes that I am pleading for assistance for my country,” Gonsalves said.

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