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20.03.2009 General News

46 Killed•In Fire & Acid

By Daily Guide
46 Killed•In Fire & Acid

The remains of the Winneba gas explosion About 46 persons tragically lost their lives in what can best be described as freaky accidents across the Central, Eastern and Greater Accra regions on Wednesday and Thursday.

Twenty-nine persons died in two Central region accidents, five in the Eastern region and 12 in Greater Accra.

Of the accidents, the Central region one involving a gas-carrying tanker with registration number GE 2115 Z on the Takoradi to Accra road around the Winneba Junction, killed most persons.

Another accident on the Swedru-Winneba road claimed eight lives, deepening the mystery about recent accidents in the Greater Accra and Central regions axis of the country.

At about 6.00pm on Wednesday, the tanker traveling from Accra to Takoradi burst a tyre, whereupon the driver lost control of the vehicle and collided head-on with a private Opel Astra car with registration number GR 8962 U from the opposite direction.

The tanker driver and one of the mates died instantly together with two other persons in the Opel Astra car.

According to eyewitness accounts, the Opel which was driving at top speed, attempted to overtake the tanker and unfortunately ran into it, causing the tanker to flip over and burst into flames.   

Police sources told DAILY GUIDE that four cars which were following the Opel had been burnt beyond recognition.

It took about five hours for Fire Service personnel to bring the situation under control.

Other vehicles within the vicinity caught fire as did a Mercedes Benz bus whose foolhardy driver attempted driving through the blazing fire.

Fourteen persons died instantly at the accident scene.

The death toll from that accident had risen to 21 as at press time last night when the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital issued a statement that four of the victims had also died at the hospital, raising the death toll.

The latest mishaps add to the series of accidents that have rocked the country in recent times, which appears to have defied solution.

Dr. Abdallah Hadi, a medical officer at the Winneba Government Hospital confirmed the death of additional two victims at the time DAILY GUIDE visited the hospital, while another victim passed away at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra.

According to him, many of the victims suffered 40 percent burns with some requiring intensive care.

These, he added, had to be transferred to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and 37 Military Hospital.

A doctor at the Winneba Government Hospital where some of the victims were rushed to, described the burns as very serious and fatal.

He painted a gloomy picture of the situation when he said it is possible that the hospital could lose more lives because the number of injured had overstretched both staff and available facilities to the limit.

“The hospital is congested; almost every ward - the male, female, kids and emergency wards including the maternity wards - have been converted. We are constrained and the hospital is in dire need of support,” he said.

As regards the condition of the patients, he said, “Almost all of them came in with their whole body burnt - both the frontal part and posterior part, including the head, and for most of the kids it also involves their private parts and this is quite a big surface area.”

He said the victims were dying one after the other, adding that the hospital had run short of bandages and medical staff to treat wounds.

The hospital asked for support from nearby facilities, and to the Ministry of Health, they sought transportation of staff and clinical equipment from the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra to the place to save lives.

Ms. Victoria Eduafo, Staff Nurse/Midwife in-charge of the Accident and Casualty Department pointed out that “out of 34 victims, we transferred about 27 immediately to Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, while those recorded dead upon arrival were two children, and two females”.

ASP Nana Ofori of the Winneba MTTU said his unit was investigating the case.

When DAILY GUIDE visited the scene, personnel of both the Ghana Police Service and Ghana National Fire Service were still collecting the charred remains of the accident victims from burnt-out vehicles, gutters and bushes until 11 o'clock of yesterday.

Alex Arhin, 28, a resident of Winneba Junction, who witnessed the accident, told DAILY GUIDE that upon the blast of the LPG tanker at about 7.00pm, he and others rushed to the scene.

 He was amazed that instead of supporting the victims, most of the residents in the vicinity ran into nearby bushes out of fear of being engulfed in the raging inferno.

Issaka Tahiru, a businessman and resident of Cape Coast who was also at the scene, claimed he lost two of his sisters with one survivor, Hajia  Barikisu, his senior sister  

The intensity of the fire which spread to the nearby areas tasked the firefighters before they finally got on top of it.

Among the survivors were three students of Apam Secondary School.

In the Eastern Region, at the Ntoroso Junction, a Mali-bound trailer conveying acid accidentally spilled its contents on the main Accra to Kumasi highway, an accident which claimed five lives.

It happened in the early hours of Thursday when the trailer with registration number GE 2882 Z, bound for Mali and said to speeding abnormally, bumped into a broken-down Kumasi-bound truck loaded with cement after the Ntronso Junction, in a curve.

In an attempt to swerve the vehicle, it dropped the load onto the road, and an oncoming Mercedes Benz bus crashed into, at 4.00am on Thursday.

The Benz bus with registration number ER 611 N was traveling from Kwahu Tafo to Accra at the time of the accident with 10 passengers on board.

The bus drove into the container on the road because of poor visibility at the time, causing the instant death of four persons including the driver of the bus while the rest escaped with various degrees of injuries.

One other person died later at the Suhum Government Hospital.

The five bodies have been deposited at the morgue of the Suhum Government Hospital. One other victim is in critical condition because the acid in the container spilled on his body.

The injured have been transferred to the Koforidua Central Hospital.

The accident blocked the main Kumasi to Accra road and traffic was diverted towards Akim Ntronso.

At the time DAILY GUIDE visited the scene at 10.00am, the Kyebi Divisional Police Commander, Chief Superintendent John Owiredu-Nkansah and his team were busy clearing the road with hired towing vehicles.

The Divisional Commander expressed concern about some drivers' disregard for road traffic regulations, saying that if all drivers take such regulations seriously, road accidents could be minimized.

The Eastern Regional Manager of the National Road Safety Commission, Stephen Anokye who was also at the accident scene, said the authorities must find a way of establishing a driving school for commercial drivers.

According to him, empirical evidence showed that 90 percent of accidents are attributable to human error.

He disclosed that the NRSC is negotiating with a private company to provide recovery trucks to the Commission so that disabled vehicles could easily be removed from the highways to prevent accidents.

At Pokuase in the Greater Accra Region also, a Nissan Urvan bus whose driver tried to avoid an old woman who was crossing the road eventually hit her, killing her instantly.

The bus was involved in another accident afterwards in which eleven persons lost their lives.

In Accra, one man was burnt to death when a taxi caught fire yesterday at the Mallam Junction. From Thomas Fosu Jnr, Ntronso, Cephas Jos Garneo & Sarah Afful, Winneba