Brick maker struggles to explain deaths

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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Businessman Kalapu Matiu was at a loss to explain how a landslide claimed the lives of three people including that of his brother-in-law at Tafua on Monday. 

His company, Tausala Matiu Company, at Satupa'itea has interests in retail, taxis and brickmaking. It was their brickmaking venture that led to five men working at Tafua to mine soil on Monday when a landslide in the afternoon claimed the lives of three, injuring another two.

Deputy Police Commissioner Papali’i Monalisa Keti, said they are investigating the deaths.

The Samoa Observer yesterday visited the residences of the men who passed away in Tafua and Satupa’itea. Their families declined to comment. 

One of the injured workers, who was released from hospital, could not be located. The second employee, who is currently under observation at Tuasivi hospital, refused to comment. 

Speaking to the Samoa Observer during an interview at his residence in Satupa’itea, Matiu was emotional and finding it difficult to come to terms with the loss of lives.

“The five men who were on the site, three worked for me, one was my brother-in-law and the other one is the landowner. The extent of the landslide led to the death of my brother-in-law and one of the employees who passed away,” he said, while fighting back tears. 

Matiu said he found it difficult to tell his sister of her husband’s death.

THE SITE AT TAFUA: The landslide occurred at this area where five men were mining soil for a brick making company in Satupaitea they worked for. Photo/Misiona Simo
THE SITE AT TAFUA: The landslide occurred at this area where five men were mining soil for a brick making company in Satupaitea they worked for. Photo/Misiona Simo

“I want to express my deepest condolences to the grieving families of the men who passed away." 

"I cannot find the words to soothe their pain and sorrow, but I can only pray for comfort for the families,” he said.

“I had to break the news to my sister that her husband will no longer come home to her and their child and because of this, I have opted not to get involved in the brick business. It is just too much to handle and I have made up my mind about it.”

The landslide on Monday afternoon occurred minutes after he left the scene, he added, and was alerted to the disaster by a worker, who dug himself out of the dirt. 

“To be honest, I would have been under the pile of dirt as well, if I had stayed any longer,” Matiu said.

“I left and prior to reaching the house, I received a call from one of my employees – who managed to get out from under the pile – about what happened. I got in my truck and rushed back to scene to find the men were stuck, so we called the village for assistance.”

The matter is now the subject of a Police investigation with the businessman indicating that he will wait to see the outcome of its findings.  

© Samoa Observer 2016

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