27.03.2005 General News

[email protected]: Relief personnel search for more bodies

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Tema, March 27 GNA - After the retrieval of ten charred bodies relief personnel have since Saturday been engaged in pumping water out of MV Polaris, the Greek fishing vessel that caught fire with the hope of getting more trapped bodies.

Water and debris have settled in the vessel and is making accessibility difficult but efforts by the personnel to get to the bottom of the vessel have not succeeded.

However, the personnel from the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and the National Fire Service have not given up to hope because they would continue on Sunday to get to the bottom of the vessel to make sure that all bodies have been retrieved.

The ten bodies have brought the number to 13, remaining four more. Luck was on the side of two survivors, Mr Stephen Quansah and Mr James Kemavor who had come from the vessel to drink water.

Meanwhile, officials of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) have assured the nation of normal supply of fuel products because they have started operating the Residual Fluidised Catalytic Cracking (RFCC) Unit to produce gasoline and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

Flanked by all the management staff, Dr Kofi Kodua Sarpong, Managing Director of TOR told reporters at a Press briefing at TOR that efforts were underway to restore the situation to normalcy.

On Good Friday, tragedy struck Tema when the vessel which had for the past three months been at the PSC Tema Ship Yards for maintenance was engulfed by fire that came into contact with oil spillage on the surface of the sea from a leaking pipeline.

The fire engulfed the vital national installations, a Cold Store and Shipping Company. They are the TOR pipelines and pumping station, VALCO conveyor belt and VRA pumping house.

The recent disaster is the third at the harbour since the 1980s. The first was in 1986 when about 24 people perished when a vessel MV "Ama Della" was being commissioned at the Fishing harbour.

The second occurred in 2000 when about 28 crewmen on fishing expedition died when their boat capsized on the high seas. Total lives lost in all the three incidents were up to 67.

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