President Paula-Mae Weekes has paid tribute to the late Nobel Laureate Sir Vidia Naipaul who died at his home in England on Saturday.
The full text of her statement follows:
After escaping through a window with his two children, police officer Shane Ramdath risked his life and ran back into his burning home to rescue his wife. However, the flames and smoke were just too much for him.
His wife Anita Ramdath, who celebrated her 31st birthday on Sunday, perished in the fire at their Immortelle Lane, Glenroy Housing Development, Princes Town home shortly after midnight yesterday.
Shane, a constable, and their daughters, ages 11 and four, escaped unhurt.
But the officer had to be forcibly dragged from the burning house by neighbours as he desperately tried to find a way to rescue his wife from the burning house. He was reportedly not taking the loss too well last night at the home of relatives, where he and the girls are staying for now.
“If they did not hold him back, the husband, he would have burned up in that fire,” said a resident who did not want to be named.
Recalling the incident, the resident said around midnight a neighbour was alerted to the fire by a crackling sound and saw smoke coming from the officer’s house.
“They were sleeping. The neighbours began shouting to alert them. All the neighbours came out and started trying to help. Most of the doors and windows burglar-proofed so they were trapped,” said the resident.
The resident said Ramdath was able to rescue his children by opening a small window near an internal staircase which is about a 15-foot drop to the ground. He said Ramdath then threw the children to neighbours, who caught them.
“The husband jump out the window too and he ran downstairs the house by a door leading to the staircase. He was calling his wife and she answered. The big girl was asking ‘when mummy coming out?’ Some people said they were hearing her bawling.”
With an axe and sledgehammer, neighbours were eventually able to break open the door.
“She was not in the corridor where we could have reached her. There was too much heavy black smoke and flames. We had to pull him (husband) out.”
He said Ramdath could not breathe at that stage and was “freaking out.”
Within seven minutes, firefighters and police officers responded. The resident said the fire-fighters broke the windows so the smoke would clear out of the house.
Anita’s charred body was later found in her bedroom.
At the scene yesterday, Anita’s father Piccard Ramjitsingh, 56, was in tears. He and his wife Anna got the news around 6.30 am, but when they arrived their daughter’s body had already been taken away.
Ramjitsingh said he was yet to speak Ramdath, who was at his mother’s home in Tableland with the two children.
“I get to hear he is not doing too well. He taking it on,” said Ramdath.
He said he, his wife and son spent Saturday - which was her daughter’s birthday - with her and her family at their Princes Town home.
“We barbecue and cut cake and stuff...Anita will be truly missed because we had a close bond. She will be missed by her children and husband.”
Anita, a clerk at the Princes Town Magistrate Court and Ramdath were married for about 12 years and had moved into the house about two and half years now. Ramdath is attached to the San Fernando Fraud Squad but has been on sick leave since last May. Their daughter will turn 12-years-old on Thursday.
Ramjitsingh thanked the fire service, police and neighbours for their assistance. The cause of the fire has not yet been ascertained, but firefighters believe it could have been electrical. Officers from the Princes Town Police Station and Fire Station are continuing investigations.
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