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Gas leak forces teams to evacuate hotel
March 07, 2007
World Cup cricket squads from Pakistan, South Africa, Canada and Ireland were evacuated from their hotel on Wednesday morning because of a gas leak, security staff said.
A policeman on site said 14 people had been taken from the Hilton, Port of Spain, to hospital. No team member from any of the four squads was hurt, a security source added.
With several fire engines and emergency vehicles seen in the vicinity, a Reuters witness saw a woman who had her face covered with an oxygen mask carried out of the main hotel building on a stretcher and into an ambulance.
The teams from South Africa, Canada and Ireland boarded buses after being ushered out of the building at 0815 local time (1215 GMT) and were whisked away from the site while the Pakistanis opted to stay in the area.
"I have no idea what happened. I had just woken up when the security man knocked on the door and said 'get out of the room'," Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi told reporters.
"But I went back to sleep. Then he knocked again, and said 'get out of the room'. Then I did and went downstairs."
Although there was no sign of any flames or smoke in the area, Afridi added: "I heard there was a fire on the eighth floor."
South African coach Mickey Arthur and some of his team were based on the eighth floor.
"I think I inhaled something. I was struggling to breathe. But I'm fine now and we're all fine," Arthur said after guests, except those based on the eighth floor, were given the all clear to return to their rooms at 1315 local time (1715 GMT).
American Dan O'Connor, who is a regular guest at the hotel and was also on the eighth floor, said: "I came out of my room and it was intense. My eyes were burning and I couldn't see."
Addressing the guests at the hotel, the Hilton's safety and security manager Peter Quammie said: "We are experiencing an emergency situation.
"The emergency forces are at the emergency control centre. We are still awaiting the all-clear. We are not totally sure on the status of the emergency."
Fast bowler Mohammad Sami, who arrived in Trinidad late on Tuesday, looked dazed as he leant against a wall and watched the emergency staff deal with the incident while hotel staff provided breakfast outside the main building.
"I smelt smoke or something burning," he told reporters.
The Pakistan team had planned a trip to the beach in the afternoon but that trip was abandoned.
Coach Bob Woolmer added: "We're going to sit here in the Pakistan team room until we are able to go back to our rooms."
Each team have been allocated a function room which is based away from the main building of the hotel.
After spending the morning in a nearby restaurant, the South Africans decided to go ahead with their practice session as scheduled at St Mary's College.
The four teams are in Trinidad for the warm-up matches before the World Cup starts in earnest on March 13.