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Unknown gas incidents shut down Seychelles' judiciary, parliament and several schools 

Victoria, Seychelles | April 12, 2024, Friday @ 17:01 in National » GENERAL | By: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 5112
Unknown gas incidents shut down Seychelles' judiciary, parliament and several schools 

Perseverance Secondary School was the first to report a strong odour. (SBC YouTube)

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The Disaster and Risk Management Division (DRMD) in Seychelles has confirmed that there has been an incident of an unknown substance in gaseous form affecting people in contact with it at the Anse Etoile Primary School today.

DRMD said in a press statement on Friday that as of 4 pm, 16 children and three adults have reported with itchiness, rash and shortness of breath.

The division and its partners remain on alert following the incidents, while efforts are still ongoing to identify the unknown substance and its origins.

DRMD advises the public to contact the national emergency number 999 in the case of any emergencies and any information concerning these incidents that can assist in the investigation can call 133 or 4288000.

In a press conference on Thursday, DRDM said is continuing its investigation to find the cause of incidents of an unknown substance in gaseous form that started earlier this week and have resulted in the closure of schools, the Judiciary and the National Assembly.

Perseverance Secondary School was the first to report a strong odour that was also smelt at the Supreme Court, the Magistrates' Court and the National Assembly at Ile Du Port on Monday.

The same incident was reported at Beau Vallon Secondary and Primary Schools, La Rosiere Creche at English River Secondary School in the following days, and the latest at Anse Etoile Primary on Friday.

Regina Prosper, director of health and security at the Ministry of Education, told reporters on Thursday that all concerned agencies were immediately alerted and Seychelles Petroleum Company came immediately and did an assessment as it was thought it had something to do with the gas in a laboratory.

"We did all the tests which showed that it had nothing to do internally with the school. PUC (Public Utilities Corporation) came and we did all the tests on the sewage side same thing and today we did the same at Beau Vallon for example the classes where the complaints started, at the toilets to see if it was related but we did not see anything," she added.

Prosper said, "What we are seeing that is common it is more or less the classes on the top floors is where the smell is stronger depending on the wind. We have seen that it is not only at Beau Vallon, there is also the La Rosiere Creche located at the English River Secondary School, three staff had the same symptoms and we advised them to go to the clinic."

She added "We see that it is moving and we are concerned with the time pattern. It starts at the same time 11 am to 2 pm."

Daniel Cetoupe, chief risk management officer, said DRMD has been able to eliminate the possibility of these gases  being certain chemicals that can cause these problems such as ammonia and chlorine.

"We have done surveillance again to investigate the situation at the Beau Vallon School to find out if there are common points with what is going on in the Perseverance region. What we have seen is that yes, there are things that are similar in the context of the symptoms people are having except the smell. Irritation of the skin and respiratory system," he explained.

Cetoupe added that "What is common among them is the smell of fuel. People have described it as a smell that suffocates. We are exploring different theories, intensifying our surveillance, and targetting specific areas that are being affected based on the information we have collected. [...] but we have not ruled out that there may be other possibilities at play."

Assistant Police Commissioner Antoine Desnousse said the police have been patrollling the affected areas since Monday.

"It is not stopping us from intensifying and seeking more information because many people are asking if there is not a criminal aspect to it. This is what we are doing and for now, we are still searching for information and doing the necessary inquiry," he added.

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Tags: Disaster and Risk Management Division

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