Tears Flow…30 Bodies Identified -Families Hunt For Loved Ones

A truck load of dead bodies.
Tempers are still high over the Wednesday tragic incident in which several Ghanaians lost their lives in a deadly gas explosion at the Goil filling station at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra.

People who were taking shelter at the filling station due to a heavy downpour that got the capital flooded lost their lives in the tragic inferno, some of them having been burnt beyond recognition.

As at yesterday the official figures of the dead were not yet available but government sources said it might have crossed 200.

Two nurses at the Ridge Hospital in Accra are said to be among the casualties.

“They died in the line of duty,” Dr L.A. Obeng, Medical Director of Ridge Hospital, told kasapafmonline.com in an interview on Friday.

‘Two of our staff, because of their dedication to duty, lost their lives while on their way to work. As I have always been saying, greater love is when a man lays his life for his fellow man.

“We believe that once they died in the line of duty, the good God will give them a place in the bosom of Abraham,’ he said.

Their names were not immediately disclosed but sources said one was called Emefa.

The police and the military have cordoned off the tragedy area while investigation into the incident proceeds.

Rescue operation at the area appears to have been brought to an end.

The Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) says its preliminary investigations indicate that valves that were not properly tightened caused the fuel to gush out from the Goil station.

This allowed the fuel to float on the surface of the flood waters, and then came into contact with naked fire in a distance of about 100 meters from the station.

The explosion then occurred when the fire spread to the underground fuel tank with the loose-fitting valve.

The Deputy Public Relations Officer for the GNFS, Billy Anaglatey, told TV3, ‘What actually might have initiated this whole fire situation at the Goil Filling Station is that, when it was raining, the people decided to take shelter there but the rain persisted. And as it was raining, the running water started rising and it was then that some of them detected the surface of the water was oily, but little did they know that it could result into fire.

‘Our investigations continued and we realised that some of the valves were not properly closed so the running water was entering into the underground tank and because of density factor, it went under the fuel and pushed the fuel up. So the fuel was coming from the underground tank and the whole area was having the fuel on the surface of the running water. It is not all the fuel that comes out that is mixable with water; those that were not mixable with water, the compounds were just resting on the surface but it was running water so it was able to move from the Goil Filling Station to over 100 meters, where it met a naked fire and traced it back to the filling station then the explosion happened,” Mr Anaglatey explained.

Missing Persons
Relatives of some of the people who lost their lives in Wednesday’s fire are yet to come to terms with the reality that they have lost their loved ones forever as wailings have characterised the identification of bodies at the morgues.

Some are also searching for their missing relatives, moving from one hospital to the other with the hope of locating their loved ones.

Three hospitals are currently giving treatment to injured persons as morgues are littered with dead bodies.

The health facilities are Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Police Hospital at Cantonments and the 37 Military Hospital, where President John Mahama visited the survivors.

Identification
At an identification exercise undertaken at the 37 Military Hospital on Thursday and Friday, about 30 bodies out of about 68 paraded earlier were identified by their relatives.

Those who were able to identify their relatives wept uncontrollably as they exited from the hospital.

Some of the bodies could not be identified because they had burnt beyond recognition and it would take a DNA test to detect.

Family members who could not find their missing relatives were in a state of anxiety as they sobbed, hoping that they would find them (relatives) alive.

Some of the anxious relatives questioned the military officers who were in-charge of the identification exercise about the measures they had put in place to ensure that those bodies that had been burnt beyond recognition could be identified.

The officers could not give the worried-looking people a specific answer.

But the military hospital authorities have revealed to DAILY GUIDE that they are yet to take a decision on those bodies that could not be identified, not ruling out a DNA test.

Major Evelyn Asamoah, Deputy Director, Public Relations in-charge of protocol at the Ghana Armed Forces, told DAILY GUIDE, ‘The hospital authorities are yet to decide on what to do with the bodies burnt beyond recognition.’

Touching on victims who suffered various degrees of injuries and were receiving treatment at the hospital, she said 17 out of over 35 victims had been discharged.

But Major Asamoah quickly added that one o the 35 victims receiving treatment died Friday morning

She said the victims were responding to treatment, commending the general public and other corporate bodies for their support to the victims.

Mahama Visits
President Mahama, accompanied by Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe and Ivorian Foreign Minister, Charles Koffi Diby, who were in the country to sympathise with him, visited the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, the Police and 37 Military Hospitals to see the conditions of the victims.

President Mahama wished them speedy recovery and pledged GH¢50 million support for them.

2 Bodies At Odawna
Two more bodies were retrieved from the Odawna drainage near the Neoplan station at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle.

Rescuers believe there might be a lot more dead bodies in that drainage, judging from the strong stench emanating from it coupled with the heap of debris carried by the flood.

Reports that other bodies have been found in various communities in the capital are filtering in as the search for missing relatives continues.

Catholic Bishops On Vain Promises
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference, reacting to the incident, charged government to stop making vain promises and fix the perennial flooding problem.

‘For all this time, what we have witnessed is government officials and ministers visiting flood scenes to commiserate with the victims and to make long empty promises to fix the situation,’ a statement released by the Chairman of the Conference, Most Reverend Osei Bonsu, noted.

The Bishops said despite government’s promises, the situation had been the same over the years.

‘Year-in-and-year-out, the same situation keeps recurring without any concrete practical steps being taken to address it holistically,’ it stated.

They extended their condolences to the bereaved families and directed all Catholics to pray for the departed and donate blood to save the ailing.

Last year a similar devastating flood occurred in the country and President John Mahama promised to end it.

In June 2014 President Mahama said: “I have directed the Finance Minister to release funds immediately for the construction of storm drains in Accra. There will be no flooding in Accra again.”

At the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, the contractor undertaking th interchange has blocked the main channel leading to the Korle Lagoon, causing the rain water to overflow with its attendant flooding.

The Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) has initiated precautionary measures to prevent a recurrence of inferno at the Goil Filling Station behind the GCB Towers at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle. Officials of the GNFS Friday morning began siphoning the fuel at the Shell Filling Station opposite the Goil Station.

Kufuor
Meanwhile, former President John Agyekum Kufuor has urged the government to consider the disaster and implement bold and pragmatic policies and projects that will perpetually address the perennial flooding that leads to the loss of human lives and properties.

According to him, too much lip service has been paid to finding lasting solutions to the problems that cause flooding.


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