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19.11.2008 Tragedy

Five burnt to death

Five burnt to death

Five persons, including a mother and her baby, were burnt beyond recognition last Monday evening when a huge explosion occurred in a warehouse located at Ablekuma NIC in the Ga West District.

Several others were suspected to have been trapped under the debris.

A sixth person was reported dead at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital yesterday after he had been rushed there along with six others on Monday evening.

Two others are said to be in critical condition. Others who perished in the inferno are a driver and two others who were loading goods from the warehouse onto a KIA truck.

The woman, with her baby strapped at her back, was passing by the warehouse when the explosion occurred.

A man who was also caught under the debris allegedly declined rescue because he claimed that his wife and his child were also underneath the debris.

The warehouse is said to belong to a Nigerian business woman who dealt in children's toys and fire crackers.

Some residents, however, suspect that there could have been explosives and other deadly weapons in the warehouse because of the magnitude of the explosion.

They also claim that goods are offloaded into the warehouse only at night.

The debris was still engulfed in flames as of 10:00 a.m. yesterday. Not even the smoke, flames and fireworks could deter onlookers and relatives from storming the site to witness the havoc caused by the devastating fire.

As of the time of filing this report, a team of rescuers from the police, the Ghana National Fire Service and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), led by the Director-General of Police Operations, DCOP Patrick Timbillah, was going through the rubble to rescue any trapped persons still alive.

It took fire personnel several hours to contain the fire.

According to the Greater Accra Regional Fire Officer, Assistant Chief Fire Officer Mr Ayarko Atobrah, the station received a distress call about 6: 15 p.m. on Monday and personnel from the Weija Fire Station went to the scene within 20 minutes to contain the situation.

Unfortunately, he said, the absence of a functional hydrant hampered the attempt of the personnel to put out the fire.

Mr Atobrah said fire engines from the Kaneshie, Accra Central and Madina Fire stations and the GNFS Headquarters were mobilised to support the exercise, adding, however, that "It was a real struggle for us to get access to water".

“Even as speak to you, the fire has flared up again and personnel have been dispatched to the scene to manage it," he said.

He said considering the contents of the warehouse, it was inappropriate to have sited it at a residential area, since it would be exposed to fire and other heat generated activities.

Mr Atobrah gave the assurance that the GNFS would undertake a full-scale investigation into the cause of the explosion, vis-a-vis the contents of the warehouse.

The roofing sheets, louvre blades and fence walls of some properties were also damaged.

Mr Theophilus Bansah, whose house is adjacent the warehouse, had his roofing sheets, louvre blades, among others, destroyed.

Another resident, Mr Richmond Hammond, described the explosion as thunderous. He said the people around retrieved eight people from the debris but four of them were already dead before their bodies were retrieved.

The Principal Nursing Officer in charge of the Accident Centre at Korle-Bu, Mrs Ernestina Yankson, said the four others were, however, in stable condition and responding to treatment.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Weija, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botwey, who visited the area, expressed concern over the banned fire crackers which were in the warehouse.

Source: Daily Graphic