The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) late Saturday afternoon announced that the fireworks display to usher in the country’s 50th Republic anniversary has been cancelled due to shock and injuries that several soldiers sustained during an explosion of the pyrotechnic devices that were to be used for the fireworks display.
“This is due to the fact that while ranks of the 21 Artillery Company were making preparations for this aspect of the observance and celebration of our 50th Republic Anniversary, there was spontaneous combustion at 13:30 hours, which resulted in a number of pyrotechnics being destroyed and rendered un-useable,” the army said in a statement.
Sources at Coast Guard said several explosions ripped apart the truck that had ferried the pyrotechnic devices from an artillery depot at Timehri.
The army said Chief-of-Staff, Brigadier Patrick West has ordered a Board of Inquiry into the incident that occurred at about 1:30pm at the Coast Guard headquarters in Ruimveldt, Georgetown.
The GDF said while all ranks of the 21 Artillery Company were accounted for, eight of them were rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital and are “all being treated for shock while four are being treated for burns.” Additionally, the GDF said its Welfare Department is working with the ranks who have been affected.
The Force Medical Officer Major Nigel Langhorne, according to the defence force, is at the hospital “working along with doctors there to ensure that our troops get the best treatment and care.”