Annandale mystery illness…
Massive clean-up exercise begins
-- Environmental officer reports unsanitary conditions
Kaieteur News
December 1, 2006

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A massive clean-up exercise is being undertaken at the Annandale Secondary School after a number of students claimed that they were ill.

At a press conference held at the Regional Education Office, Triumph, Region Four's Chairman Mr. Clement Corlette said the school compound and surrounding area are being cleaned.

Corlette said the decision to clean the school was made when he met with the Vice Chairman and the Regional Education Officer for Health.

Corlette said that the Regional Environmental Officer visited the school and reported that the compound was in a deplorable state.

The Environmental Officer reported that there was water under the school building.

This water is most likely contaminated, the officer said.

He also reported that septic tanks were overflowing and that water tanks were dirty.

Further, the underground reservoir in the schoolyard is probably infected from the contaminated water beneath the school, the officer reported, adding that there are other factors that could cause students to fall ill.

Regional Executive Officer, Mohamed Deen said the clean-up project will include filling under the school with dirt and the installation of reservoirs above ground, among other activities.

Deen said the exercise should cost about $500,000.

Asked his view about supernatural forces being the cause of the illness the students complained of, Corlette responded that he respects all the people who believe this and added that the parents of the students were right to champion their beliefs.

However, he has to look at the situation scientifically.

The official added that the school canteen was demolished because it was an illegal structure built by unauthorised persons.

Parents pointed fingers at the school's canteen, claiming that the construction of the building had disturbed a ‘Dutch spirit' which made their children ill.

“The persons who will take over the canteen for the school will have to abide by the rules that are outlined by the Ministry of Education,” Corlette declared.

Nineteen students were hospitalised last week and parents had pledged to keep their children away from the school until the canteen was demolished.

Doctors at the Georgetown Public Hospital had however declared the children medically fit and said they found nothing in their condition that warranted treatment.

Some students had complained of stomach pains, cramps and shortness of breath.