25.03.2005 General News

Three charred bodies recovered from burnt vessel

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Tema, March 25, GNA - Three charred bodies have been retrieved from the MV Polaris, the Greek fishing vessel that caught fire at the PSC Tema Ship Yard at about 1030 hours on Friday.

They have been burnt beyond recognition and were put in sacks to be deposited at the mortuary.

Fire fighters, made up of firemen from the Ghana National Fire Service, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) and Volta Aluminium Company (VACLO) are still working around the clock to retrieve the remaining 13 bodies including those of expatriates. Meanwhile, the TOR stated that there was no cause for alarm because the Bulk Oil Storage Company (BOST) had stocks of fuel that could last for three weeks while "TOR itself has a quantity that would take us for some time".

Mrs Aba Lokko, Public Affairs Manager, said to prevent further disaster TOR had cut lines to the disaster area and would be on the guard. She denied the allegation that TOR contributed to the cause of the fire because it failed to work on its leaking pipelines, which spilled oil onto the surface of the sea that came into contact with naked fire from the MV Polaris that was being repaired.

Mrs Lokko said TOR was so security conscious that it would not look on unconcerned for such important incident to go on.

The fire, which started around 1030 hours, destroyed the vessel, Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO) conveyor belt, TOR pumping station and the Volta River Authority (VRA) pumping house.

The Kiku Cold Store and Dolphin Shipping Company office close to the conveyor belts were also razed down.

The incident drew a number of Ministers, Officials of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority and Security Personnel to the scene. They included Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister of Harbours and Railways; Mr Kwadwo Baah Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning; Major Courage Quashigah (rtd), Minister of Health; Professor Mike Ocquaye, Minister of Energy; Mr Kwadwo Mpianim, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Real Admiral John Gbenah, Navy Commander and Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Daniel Odai, Tema Regional Police Commander.

Mr Baah Wiredu said efforts would be made to ensure that the TOR worked expeditiously to restore the situation to normalcy. The fire took about eight hours to control.

The Tema Municipal Fire Officer, Mr Paul Tamakloe, who collapsed as a result for inhaling smoke is reported doing well at the Tema General Hospital.

Security Personnel made up of the Police, the Navy and Firemen have been place on guard.

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