………As ‘chinchinga seller sets off filling station explosion that claims 7 lives

As the dust literally settles after the huge mushroom cloud that resulted from the explosion of a fuel station at Atomic junction, a suburb of Accra, it has emerged that the fireball had been caused by a khebab seller.

From just about ten meters near the filling station, the khebab seller, yet to be identified, had lit his skewer in preparation for the day’s work at a time that escaping gas from a loading exercise malfunction at the station had filled the air.

At least seven people have been confirmed dead, including one person who was flung by the vibration of the explosion as he filmed the event on his phone from an overpass nearby.

Scores of others have also been hospitalized with various degrees of injury from the disaster.

The recklessness of the set-off, in which a khebab seller’s proximity to a filling station is the cause, comes as a throwback to June 3 2015, when a similar recklessness lit up a filling station at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle killing some 200 people.

In that disaster which was supposed to serve as a watershed in public safety practices in Ghana, a cigarette smoker is said to have lit a joint and later dropped the smoldering stub into flood waters mixed with fuel that had leaked from the Goil Filling station during a heavy down pour.

The Goil Filling Station had been burnt down by the spark from the cigarette stub, along with many people who were taking shelter from a heavy downpour under its hood.

Five houses and several cars had also been burnt in destruction worth millions of Ghana cedis.

Eventually, the death toll rose to 200. Seth Kwesi Ofosu, who had sparked the fire with a cigarette stub had not died in the fire, and had later been picked up by the Police to help with investigations.

A committee set up by government to look into the disaster had later recommended stringent safety measures thenceforward.

It has therefore come as a milestone of foolhardiness that a similar reckless set-off has happened at a filling station just two years into the June 3rd disaster of 2015.

President Nana Akufo-Addo has since taken to his Twitter handle to decry the recklessness.

“Ghanaians must stop complaining about gas stations, we can’t blame only the gas stations, their attitude is also part,” the President had tweeted.

Chronology of events leading the explosion

On the night of Saturday, the 7th of October, 2017, a glitch had occurred as workers of the MANSCO gas Filling station at Atomic, near Madina, were loading one of their tanks on the compound of the filling station.

The blip had led to gas rapidly escaping into the air causing staff of the station to run away from the scene in an emergency. The event had caught the attention of pedestrians and passers-by, some of whom had began recording it with their phones from atop an overpass nearby.

A few minutes after the chaos, when the gas in the atmosphere was still settling down, the khebab seller, who is said to have plied his trade near the filling station for years, had then lit up his skewer in preparation to roast some khebabs.

The flame bonded with the gas in the air immediately, setting the sky ablaze over the heads of passers-by and producing shockwaves that threw off a man filming from the overpass nearby, causing him to fall to his death.

After the initial explosion, the fire had then blazed a path to the main tank from which the gas was escaping. The resultant fireball vibrated throughout the whole vicinity and could be seen as far as Aburi in the Eastern region.

As at yesterday, the death toll had been set at seven. Two of the casualties are said to have been students of the Presbyterian Boys Senior High School, Legon, who had been hit by a commercial car during a pandemonium over the explosion.

The Information Ministry has since also released a statement saying 132 others were injured. The casualties had been rushed to nearby University of Ghana Hospital for medical attention.

According to the statement,  government had began investigation into the disaster and will readily administer punitive measures to anyone found culpable.



Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Saul Paul



The Republic News Online

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