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15.05.2007 Disaster

Nationals Of 11 Countries Perish - Trauma At K'Bu

Nationals Of 11 Countries Perish - Trauma At K'Bu

The Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital was yesterday filled with sorrow when wailing nationals from 11 West African countries turned out there to identify relatives and victims of last Thursday's highway disaster at Okyereko, near Winneba in the Central Region.

Out of the 11 ECOWAS countries whose nationals perished in the tragedy, Togo, Niger, Liberia and Nigeria had a representative each of their embassies for the identification exercise.

In all, citizens of Liberia, Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Niger, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Benin were on board the STIF bus which was carrying 50 passengers from Cote d' Ivoire to Togo through Ghana.

According to the manifest made available to the Daily Graphic, there were 13 passengers of Liberian origin, five Togolese, five Ivorians, six Nigerians, seven Nigeriens, three Malians, three Guineans, one Burkinabe, one Ghanaian, one Senegalese and one Beninois.

The manifest also indicated that the bus was under the control of two drivers; J. Kouadio and Z. Traore.

At the scene of the fatality, however, 41 of them were killed, 35 of them on the spot and six of them later when an articulated truck with cocoa beans travelling from Accra to Takoradi scraped the left side of the STIF Mercedes Benz bus.

As people from nearby communities and other road users volunteered to remove the injured and the dead, another articulated truck with cocoa beans, also from Accra to Takoradi, ran into five other vehicles whose passengers had gone on the rescue mission, killing four of the good Samaritans.

At yesterday's emotional search, only seven out of about 31 bodies deposited at the Korle-Bu mortuary were identified by their relatives.

A Nigerian, Mr Daniel Okebaran, who could not locate his brother, Bennet Okebaran, said “the way the bodies are it is difficult to make any identification, adding that his earlier attempt at the Winneba Hospital mortuary was also without success.

According to the investigator, Lance Corporal Francis Semana of the Winneba police, who assisted the relatives and embassy staff to identify the dead, the identification exercise was expected to continue today, since most of the embassy representatives and relatives did not show up.

Hours before that mass expression of grief yesterday, barely five days after the disaster, three more people were killed on the same Accra-Cape Coast highway, this time at Ankamu near the Apam Junction, about 22 kilometres from the scene of last Thursday's brutal accident.

Three persons were killed in that accident.

Two of the three (a male and a female) were on board an Intercity STC Coaches Limited bus, with registration number GT 4304 W, which collided with an articulated truck with registration number AS 155 X.

The third deceased was the driver of the articulated truck.

The Apam District Police Commander, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Kwasi Asare-Baffour, who confirmed the dead, told the Daily Graphic that the articulated truck was travelling from Takoradi to Accra when it was involved in a head-on collision with the STC bus, which was travelling from Accra to Takoradi at about 5.30 a.m.

According to him, the articulated truck veered off its lane into the lane of the bus resulting in the collision.

He said another vehicle which was travelling behind the STC bus ran into the bus from behind as a result of the impact of the collision, adding that as a result the roof of the bus was caved in thereby trapping the passengers on board.

DSP Asare-Baffour said the police and the Fire Service at Ankamu and Winneba were called in to help remove the injured and the dead.

He said while the injured were rushed to the Apam Catholic Hospital and the Winneba Government Hospital, the dead were deposited at the Winneba Hospital mortuary for post mortem and identification.

Story by Emmanuel Bonney