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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Breaking News: Solomon Islander dies at Pacific Arts Festival in Pago Pago

A member of the Solomon Islands delegation to the 10th Festival of Pacific Arts in American Samoa died this morning from a cerebral malarial infection.

Festival co-chairman Fagafaga Danny Langkilde said George Garry, a 47-year-old carver, was pronounced dead at 5:10am today.

Dr Ivan Tuliau of the LBJ Medical Center in American Samoa said the head of the Solomons delegation, Dr. Robert Au, was informed that Garry had severe back pain at 4:05am. Garry then began having seizures, and emergency medical personnel were called to Tafuna Elementary School, where the Solomons delegation is housed.

Tuliau said EMS personnel declared Garry dead.

Tuliau said the disease is not contagious, and Garry likely contracted the malaria before arriving last week with the Solomons delegation on a charter flight from Honiara. Tuliau said the mosquito that transmits malaria is not found in American Samoa. He said Garry's death was an isolated case, though all members of the Solomons delegation are being checked for symptons of malaria.

Garry exhibited no symptoms of the disease before this morning, Fagafaga said.

The American Samoan government, led by Governor Togiola Tulafono and First Lady Mary Tulafono, festival officials and members of the Solomon Islands delegation held a small service for Garry at the LBJ Medical Center chapel at 10 am today.

The Solomons delegation has withdrawn from events today at the festival, which ends on Wednesday. Fagafaga said the festival organizing committee, in conjunction with the Solomons delegation, was determining today how active the group would be for the remainder of the event.

The Solomon Islands will host the next Festival of Pacific Arts in 2012.

Tuliau said Garry's body was being held at the LBJ Medical Center morgue.

Fagafaga said the American Samoan government has provided a casket and appropriate clothing for Garry's body. He also said a member of the American Samoan Cabinet, and a festival official, will accompany Garry's body back to Honiara.

The Solomons delegation is scheduled to return home on Monday, August 4, by a charter flight. Fagafaga said the schedule is being reviewed.

Source: Pacific Magazine

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