Shellshocked business owners in Seychelles assess damage following blast caused by 4 containers of explosives
The furniture shop is about a few hundred meters away from CCCL and they also sustained major damage. (Furniture Cave)
(Seychelles News Agency) - In the aftermath of the massive explosion from site of the Civil Construction Company Limited (CCCL) that happened in the early morning on Thursday in the Providence Industrial area, many Seychellois businesses are now picking up the pieces and trying to bring back some semblance of normalcy.
SNA caught up with several owners of businesses in the area to gauge the extent of the damage caused by CCCL's four containers of explosives blowing up, for yet unknown reasons.
Located near the entrance of Providence, and closer to the area where the blast took place, is DoubleClick Exchange and it is one of the businesses that experienced the brunt of the explosion.
The owner of DoubleClick Exchange, Muditha Gunathilake, told SNA that the blast blew in the entire glass storefront of his operation.
"Early this morning, the minute the blast went off the anti-theft alarm rang on my phone, waking me up, I looked at the camera feed remotely on my phone and saw broken glass and broken things. I initially thought it was a thief. Immediately I went to Providence to check up on the store. I was quite early, about 20 minutes after the blast I was there," he said.
|The flying objects from the impact on the DoubleClick Exchange. (DoubleClick Exchange) Photo License: All Rights Reserved
Gunathilake said he was stopped by the police near the entrance and was told that it was a bomb and that he could not go further.
"I thought about going in through the road at Sunshine House instead but when I entered there and saw the amount of destruction, a mere 200 metres away from my business I decided against it," he added
Gunathilake said that he met with his employees further away where they checked the cameras remotely to see exactly what had happened. The camera feed had caught the moment the explosion had blown in his entire storefront, with big pieces of glass flying everywhere.
Aside from DoubleClick Exchange, he also has a fish processing plant, a boat at the fishing port as well and a gear store in Providence.
He said that due to their location being further away, on the other side of Providence near the Seychelles Maritime Academy, the impact was less there.
"It's not as severe there, some glass and doors are broken, the fish processing factory had a hanging ceiling and it has come down and some of the metal tools have come off. But these we can get repaired and operational soon. Not as bad as the exchange, there we'll have to see what we can do," he told SNA.
Gunathilake said, "We are very fortunate that it did not happen during the day, if you see the camera footage of the moment of impact you will understand. The casualties could have been a lot worse, I can't imagine if someone was inside with all of the glass flying about what could have happened."
Andre Butler-Payette, general manager of 7°South, a destination management company based in the Providence area, said the loud sound of the explosion woke him up, and was then alerted by security based at the building about the incident.
Since the area was closed they were also unable to access their office at the time.
"We were spared the brunt of the blast since we are located at the back end of the industrial estate. However, the general infrastructure; the doors, windows as well as the ceiling was damaged," he said.
"We now find ourselves in a situation where we cannot go to work, it's difficult, especially during this period during December and January. This is our peak season, this is when we work the most. We have tours and groups coming and we cannot even work. We cannot access our buses to work and even if we could, the roads in Providence are strewn with broken glass everywhere," he explained.
Butler-Payette added that "the situation is further complicated because we also have to wait for confirmation from SIA (Seychelles Infrastructure Agency) that the buildings are structurally sound and safe to enter. But this pales in comparison to the human cost. Two of our employees now find themselves without a home. So we need to find ways to rebuild our business as well as help our employees who have lost a lot. This is a huge difficulty that most small to medium business is facing now."
He told SNA that "we will need support. We need to know what happened and the consequences because this is not our fault."
Butler-Payette further stated that while he is covered by insurance he is not certain whether an explosion is covered.
SNA also spoke to Alexander Hoareau, one of the directors of Furniture Cave, another business located just outside the industrial estate at Petit Paris. The furniture shop is about a few hundred metres away from CCCL and they also sustained major damage.
"It was our driver, who doesn't live far from the office, who alerted us at around three in the morning, his house was also damaged. Immediately we hurried to the scene to survey the damage. The doors and windows were damaged, there was glass everywhere, even inside the office it was damaged; computers and laptops on the floor. The damage also extends to our furniture shop itself, with the glass on the furniture broken as well. It is a total disaster," he said.
Hoareau added that there are also metal scraps from the containers that blew up everywhere and the top floor of the building is also severely damaged.
"As of yet, we are still deciding on the next step for us, especially in regards to the damage and compensation. Following that we will organise our workers to clean up and get back to business as soon as possible," he said.