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23.04.2006 Health

Hospitals deny receiving 48 corpses

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Worawora (V/R), April 22, GNA - The Worawora Government Hospital and the Margaret Marquart Catholic Hospital at Kpando, both in the Volta region on Friday denied media reports of receiving 40 and 18 corpse respectively from the April 8th Volta Lake Disaster.

"We have not received any dead bodies from the accident, the Journalists never visited our premises to verify the report, it was simply a fabricated story by faceless individuals to propagate their selfish aims," Dr Kuklui Gavua stated in an interview.

Medical Officers from the two institutions disclosed this to a joint fact-finding team of Officials from Ghana News Agency headquarters in Accra and African Regional Office of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative who were there to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the allegation.

Media report had alleged that following the April 8 Volta Lake Disaster, Margaret Marquart Catholic Hospital at Kpando received 18 corpses whilst the Worawora Hospital also received 40 bodies of victims. A team of medical Officers at the Worawora Hospital, which included, Mr Ebenezer Kissi Owusu a Medical Assistant, Mr Joshua Ametah Storekeeper and Mr K. Gbeku a Senior Dispensary Technician categorically denied the report.
Given the chronology of events, Mr Owusu said on Friday, March 31, 2006 the fridge at the hospital mortuary broke down and a technician was invited to work on it within the preceding week.
On Friday April 7, the Technician detected that the fault was enormous than previously anticipated, which would demand more time and effort in repairing it.

On Monday April 10 the hospital authorities decided to transfer all the 18 bodies in the mortuary at the time to Kpando, Margaret Marquart Catholic Hospital Mortuary, which is a normal operational arrangement in the health sector.

The Hospital Officials were surprised to hear for the first time on Thursday, April 13 that 40 bodies of the Volta Lake disaster victims had been deposited at the Worawora hospital with additional 18 sent to the Kpando hospital.
"This is a false report and must be discarded immediately," Mr Owusu told the team and opened the mortuary for inspection. The Team found only one corpse in the 120 capacity double fridge undergoing test operations with unstable temperature not conducive for keeping dead bodies.

Answering question on why the hospital waited for 11 days after the fault to transfer the bodies to Kpando, Mr Owusu who represented Dr Felix Doe the Medical Officer In-Charge said depending on the frequency of opening the fridge, bodies could be kept for more than 14 days in a mortuary without any signs of decomposition after a shut-down. Mr Owusu said normally recovered bodies of boat accident victims are buried immediately at the nearest community, adding, "it is not a practice to deposit such bodies in the morgue." The Worawora Medical Assistant said only three survivors were brought to the hospital for treatment. Two were treated and discharged the same day whilst a nine-month old baby, Dotse Agbemava was admitted from April 11 and discharged on April 20.

Dr Gavua Medical Officer In-Charge of the Kpando, Margaret Marquart Catholic Hospital collaborated the report of the Worawora Medical Authorities stressing, "occasionally Worawora and Peki Government Hospital transfers dead bodies to our hospital." He said, "dead bodies from other hospitals are examined by a team of medical doctors before they are deposited at the mortuary and I can say with certainty after examining all the 18 bodies from Worawora Hospital on April 10th that the corpses were not victims of the Boat disaster."

Dr Gavua appealed to media practitioners to verify their stories, especially health related issues "as the consequence of any unguided public could inflict pain on families, communities and the nation." A Boat christened "Born Again" on April 8 was involved in an accident on the Volta Lake, near Tepa Abotoase in the Jarsikan District of the Volta region, which sparked of media speculation of the number of fatalities and survivors.

Information available to the GNA indicated that 95 persons, including those evicted by Officials of Game and Wildlife at Dudzome-Digya, were on board the ill-fated boat.

Mr. Yaw Kaizaro Awoye Secretary to the Tepa Abotoase Boat Owners Association who is in-charge of registration of survivors and dead on Resurrection Sunday confirmed to the Ghana News Agency that only ten bodies have been retrieved and buried whilst 71 survivors had official registered.

The following were confirmed dead in the disaster: Yayra Tobo aged one year eight months; Kweku Ahiagba, three years; Bright Marcharty, one year seven months; Doe Tabo, eight years; Fati Hassan, seven years; Lydia Ahiagba, five years; Lamin Siedu, 16 years; Mami Labila, 40 year-old pregnant woman; Ama Bedra 46 years and Gado Zamanama, 70 years.
The Digya National Park, second largest protected area after Mole National Park; covers nearly 3,500 square kilometres on the western edge of the Volta Lake. The Park is mostly woodland Savannah. It has poor soils with isolated and conspicuous inselbergs. Digya Park located in the remote part of the Lake has considerable development potential to attract tourists. Wildlife species in the Park include; manatee and the clawless otter, black and white Colobus monkey, antelope, elephants, warthogs, lions and leopards and birds.