FBI SAYS SUSPECTED GAS LEAK CAUSED EXPLOSION IN NEVIS; LOCAL AUTHORITIES SAY INVESTIGATIONS CONTINUE

Gayane Balasanyan
Gayane Balasanyan

Women burnt in Nevis

Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 17, 2018  – The United States Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)  is of the view that the recent explosion which injured two American students studying medicine at the Medical University of the Americas in Nevis, could have been caused by a suspected gas leak, but the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force in a statement on Friday said that “conclusions regarding the origins of the suspected gas leak could not be provided by the FBI” and further investigations will continue.Although the full FBI report has not been made public, it appears to have ruled out that the two victims, 28-year-old Nada Khalil and 31-year-old Gayane Balasanyan, were not the target of or were engaged in domestic or international terrorism.

“There were no known indications that either victim was targeted, or that either victim intentionally caused the blast. Examination of the scene did not reveal any evidence of a destructive device or illicit activity that could result in an explosion. The condition of the stove burner control  knob and or gas supply line, present the possibility that propane unintentionally leaked into the apartment. If initial reporting is corroborated, the victim’s attempt to light a cigarette was the likely source that led to the blast and subsequent fire,” said the report from an unnamed Supervisory Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) included in a statement from the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force.

The Police said it received a report at about 8:40 p.m. on October 3, 2018 of an explosion at an apartment building at Pot Works that houses students of the Medical University of the Americas.

“Khalil and Balasanyan were in a section of the apartment building when an explosion took place in that area destroying the section and extensively damaging adjoining sections. The two students sustained severe thermal burns and were immediately transported to the Alexandra Hospital for treatment before they were transported to the U.S. via air ambulance for further medical attention,” the Police statement said.

It stated that the Fire and Rescue Services extinguished the fire caused by the explosion and on October 9, a request was made for assistance from the U.S. Embassy in Barbados regarding the investigation into the explosion.

The Police statement said that although the findings of the FBI agent are in line with that of local investigators, “it must be noted, however, that the report also stated that conclusions regarding the origins of the suspected gas leak could not be provided by the FBI.”

“Notwithstanding that, the observations provided will serve to further the investigations of the RSCNPF,” said the police statement.

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