The 5 Most Devastating Disasters to Hit Ghana

I actually heaved a sigh of relief when it was confirmed that only 17 people died in the Apiatse Explosion disaster early 2022. Do not get me wrong, with the extent of damage, I thought there might be more persons dead. Regardless, this disaster was quite tragic and will not easily be forgotten.

Ghana has experienced lots of disasters since independence. Sad to say most have been unnatural or accidental and though avoidable, it has led to massive lost of lives and damage to property. These are the 5 that stand out over the last 60 years.

5

22 March 2019 Road Crash Inferno – Kintampo Death Toll – 67

The accident occurred around 0100 hours when two buses, a Grandbird with registration number GT 5694-18 traveling from Garu to Kumasi and a VIP bus with registration number GT 3916-17, which was travelling from Accra to Bolgatanga collided head-on.

GNA investigations revealed that the accident happened at “Watchman”, a farming settlement along the highway between Tuobodom in the Techiman North District and Jema. The driver of one of the Buses was said to be dozing off behind the wheel. With speeding, it was a recipe for disaster.

One of the Vehicles burst into flames upon collision claiming more than 50 lives on the spot. Kintampo sadly is the road crash capital in Ghana. In February 2016, 53 persons were killed in similar fashion. Sadly road crashes claim more than 2000 lives a year with more than 5000 suffering various injuries.

4

8 April 2006 Ferry Disaster – lake Volta off the Tapa Popoasse village, Death Toll – 120

At least 120 people who crammed onto a ferry during the forced evacuation of an island in the vast Lake Volta drowned after the boat sank, according to the Eastern regional police. The ferry, headed for Abotoase in the eastern region of the lake, was being used by people scrambling to meet a deadline to leave Dudzorme Island in the Tapa-Abotoase area to make room for the Digya National Park.

Survivors of this accident say the overloaded ferry split after hitting a submerged object 18 kilometres from Abotoase during bad weather. Sections of the lake are plagued by tree stumps and though efforts have been made to remove stumps, similar accidents do happen often with fewer casualties.

3

9 May 2001 Ohene Djan Stadium Disaster – Accra, Death Toll – 126

A midweek league game between giants of Ghana football, Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko turned ugly when police fired rounds of tear gas into disgruntled fans who were throwing seats and missiles towards the pitch. Fans of Kotoko felt the referee allowed a dubious goal from Hearts forward Ishmael Addo.

Hearts won the game by 2 goals to 1, where upon the final whistle fans of Kotoko started breaking chairs and throwing them.

The police responded with brute force by firing several rounds of tear gas at sections of the stands. The stampede through the narrow exits led to asphyxiation of many fans that night. This led to redesign of the Ohene Djan Stadium and reforms in the police services. This was one the worst football disaster in the World and only eclipsed by the Lima National Stadium Disaster, May 1964.

2

3rd June 2015 Circle Flood and Fuel Station Explosion Disaster – Accra, Death Toll – 256

On a cold Wednesday night, that witnessed flooding due to a heavy downpour in the capital, Accra. Many commuters sought shelter at a fuel station adjacent the GCB tower at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle. The intensity of the rains coupled with poor and choked drainage system, low lying nature of the area, and indiscriminate citing of structures resulted in the flooding.

The flood waters infiltrated the underground fuel storage causing a cocktail of diesel and petrol to expel to the surface. The fire is believed to have been started from some households in the surrounding environs. Neither persons taking shelter, vehicles parked at the fuel station nor staff of the station was able to escape from the fire. Many more died due to the flood.

1

24 February 1966 Operation Cool Chop Coup – Accra, Death Toll – estimated 1600

Events leading to and during the coup that ousted Ghana’s first leader, Kwame Nkrumah is far from what was largely considered bloodless. Unfortunately, the total figure is not readily known. The coup started with the assassination of Major General Charles Mohammed Barwah, who was awoken from his bed and shot in front of his wife and children. Seven men stationed at his home were also murdered.

The rebels numbering 600, encountered fierce resistance at the Presidential villa, The Flagstaff House, which lasted for about 6 hours. Some foreign nationals; notably Russians were thought to have been killed. For instance, among those shot dead near Flagstaff House was an air hostess on her way to the airport. The rebel soldiers were said to be indiscipline hence were not easily controlled by the commanding Officers. They were drug addicts too, several eye witnesses suggested that they were involved in extrajudicial killings of countless innocents, most of whom were thought to be Nkrumah sympathizers.

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