Caribbean News in Brief – March 25-10

FATAL COLLAPSE

Cap-Haitien, Haiti: A building collapsed Sunday in the city of Cap-Haitien, killing two people and injuring three as fearful residents felt aftershocks from a quake that struck Cuba.

“The house collapsed around midnight and two people were found dead and their bodies were taken to the hospital,” said Kelly Bastien, the president of the Haitian Senate.

At least seven people were living in the house and three were pulled alive from the rubble and have been receiving treatment.

Cap-Haitien was spared on January 12 when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake flattened much of Port-au-Prince and other parts of southern Haiti, killing more than 220,000 people.

The tremors were thought to be connected to a 5.6-magnitude earthquake that struck the southeastern Cuban province of Guantanamo on Saturday, sending panicked residents rushing outside.

Dozens of small movements have been felt in recent weeks in eastern Cuba, which lies less than 200 miles across the sea from Cap-Haitien.

DEBT CANCELLED

Port-au-Prince, Haiti: The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has agreed to write off the nation’s debt, which stands at $479 million.

The bank’s board of governors made the decision at its annual meeting.

According to figures from the International Monetary Fund, the IDB debt was the largest amount of the $1.2 billion that Haiti owed as of late January.

IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno says the bank has also voted to offer $2 billion in financing to the earthquake-ravaged country over the next 10 years.

The new funds will go toward supporting long-term reconstruction and development efforts.

The European Union has also agreed to donate $1.4 billion in development aid to the country in the coming years.

FEE APPROVED

Kingston, Jamaica: The Cabinet has approved the implementation of a US$8 aviation fee for passengers on round trip flights.

Minister with Responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Daryl Vaz, says the move will relieve airlines and local operators of the charge by reallocating it to passengers.

Under the Civil Aviation Act and Regulations, the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority is mandated to charge airlines and operators fees for the licensing, registration and certification of pilots and equipment, as well as for air navigational services.

The fees are charged to the airline and are used in the calculation of the ticket prices for travel to Jamaica.

Vaz said the move should not disadvantage customers.

“The JCAA anticipates that the removal of the charge to the airlines will assist to lower their base ticket price,” said Vaz. “This will therefore offset any increase that the $8 per round trip would have, as the starting base price would be lower.”

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