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18.07.2005 General News

17 die in accident in Kumasi

What began as an ordinary misunderstanding between a driver and his mate has caused the sad end of 17 members of the Santasi branch of the Deeper Life Bible Church.

As a result of the misunderstanding, the mate, in a fit of rage, jumped into the driver's seat and moved the articulated truck without permission, running it into a Mercedes Benz 207,on which the church members were returning from a funeral, killing the 17 near the Santasi roundabout in Kumasi.

They had gone to console a colleague church member at the funeral of his relation at Asenemaso and had almost reached home when the accident occured.

Six persons survived the accident but are in life threatening situations at the Intensive Care Unit of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH).

It took more than 30 minutes for rescuers to cut through the wreckage of the Benz bus to remove the dead and injured. Many of the bodies were horribly mutilated.

Almost all the deceased, including the driver of the Benz bus 207 with registration number AS 479 P who was identified only as Raggerman, were residents of Santasi.

Among the dead were a nursing mother, Mrs Sarah Apraku, and her 18-month-old baby girl, Paulina Apraku. Those identified included Rosemary Afrifa, 38, Hagar Awuah, 36, Dora Owusu, 38,Madam Vivian, 52, Pastor Elijah Amponsah, 40, Sister Ataa, 23(bread seller), Brother Sylvester, 36, Madam Cecilia Adu, 55,Sister Ataa, 33(fish monger), Jemima Nsiah, 35,Margaret Bempong, 49,and Ama Nyarko, 29.

Those on admission at KATH were identified as Akua Afrifa, who initially was added to the dead and placed in the morgue, but regained consciousness around 1 am on Sunday and was taken to the ICU. She is currently responding to treatment.

Others on admission are Brother Yaw, Kate Yara, Brother Peter, Sister Charlotte and Cecelia Duodu. The driver's mate of the articulated truck, who was allegedly behind the steering wheel when the accident occurred, is now at large and the police have mounted a search for him.

He was said to have lost control of the vehicle while at top speed from the Obuasi end of the dual carriageway.

The assembly member of Santasi Electoral Area, Mr Samuel Amankwah, who witnessed the accident, said that the articulated truck with registration number AS 7103 V had just offloaded a quantity of cement at Santasi and was supposed to return to the Central Business Area in Kumasi when a quarrel arose between the driver of the truck and his mate.

That, he said, compelled the driver to abandon the truck in front of a shop but the mate, who was yet to be identified, took control in a fit of anger and started speeding towards Kumasi.

He said the driver of the Benz bus who might have observed the danger ahead, stopped at a distance, but the truck ran towards its direction and crushed into it, killing 17, with the others sustaining severe injuries.

He said the accident had thrown the Santasi community into a state of mourning. That was because apart from the fact that they attended the same church, all of them were either close relatives or friends.

He said besides, almost all the women who perished in the vehicle were nursing mothers, stressing that some of them left behind three or four children.

Meanwhile the Kumasi Police has arrested the articulated truck driver's mate, who allegedly drove the truck carelessly into the 207 Mercedes Benz bus and killed 17 people on the spot.

Ashanti Regional Police Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) Commander Chief Superintendent Augustine Gyening told the GNA in Kumasi on Monday that the mate reported himself to the Police on Sunday morning and was placed in Police custody for further investigations.

Superintendent Gyening, who did not mention the name of the suspect, said the Police were still investigating to find out whether he had a driving license.

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