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Lamp Explosion Kills Two Children; Two More Plus Mother Wounded

Jul 19, 2023

Lamp Explosion Kills Two Children; Two More Plus Mother Wounded

It is one of the worst tragedies a family can endure – a combustion that kills two of their children, leaving all the other siblings, and their parents with varying degrees of burn injuries. That is what happened on Tuesday night in the peaceful and remote Mennonite village of Neuland in Corozal. The village has no electricity, and no phone and internet service. The incident happened around seven-thirty at the home of the Mennonite family, where the oldest child was filling up a kerosene lantern. But human error resulted in tragedy. That’s where News Five’s Marion Ali picks up the story.

Marion Ali, Reporting
It was a normal Tuesday evening for the Sawatzky family of the Mennonite community of Neuland in Corozal – that is until around seven-thirty p.m. Fifteen-year-old Helena Sawatzky was filling a kerosene lantern, accidentally with gasoline, while her mother, thirty-eight-year-old Justina Sawatzky flicked a lighter to light the lantern. That was when the lantern combusted, spilling gasoline on all the family members and simultaneously igniting a fire that left them literally fighting off flames from their bodies.


Desperate attempts by the patriarch of the family, thirty-nine-year-old Henrich Sawatzky to extinguish his family members who were literally burning alive, was only successful for his wife and his two older children, Helena and Jacob, who suffered burns to both hands. In the struggle, Sawatzsy also suffered burns to both hands, as he tried to save his two youngest children, three-year-old Ana and a ten-month-old baby girl, who both suffered severe burns to their entire bodies. The family sought medical attention at the Northern Regional Hospital, where the infant died. Little Ana was transferred to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, where she, too, succumbed early this morning. Today, Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams confirmed it was human error that happened.

Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
“They believe that they were putting kerosene in the lamp, when in fact it may have been gasoline, and when they lighted it, it blew up, causing injuries to the individuals. I think one person passed away. Police are still looking at that matter. Fire Department is also involved, and then we’ll see what the outcome of the fire investigation is going to be.”

Reporter

“And is there any possibility of some type of charge, maybe even negligence?”

Chester Williams

“At this time we cannot say. We need to await the report from the Fire Department and then we’ll see how we go from there.”
Meanwhile an elder of Neuland told News Five that while the close-knit Mennonite community is shocked by the incident, they still hold staunchly to their religious beliefs, and they do not want electricity in the village. They feel that electricity is even more dangerous than kerosene, or gasoline, since faulty electrical connections or wires result in fires more frequently than not. Marion Ali for News Five.