A road crash involving three vehicles occurred in the early hours of Saturday in Ghana, resulting in a fire that claimed several lives.
It was difficult for a joint rescue team including police officer, firefighters and ambulance officials to immediately confirm the number of fatalities.
This is because many of the passengers involved in the crash were burnt beyond recognition.
The crash, according to eyewitnesses, happened close to a hillside cemetery at Bono Manso, a community between Kintampo and Techiman in the country’s Bono East Region.
The eyewitnesses blame the incident on a bus driver who lost control after his brake failed as he sought to overtake another bus.
After losing control, he ran downhill with his bus into an articulated lorry which was heading north with bottled and canned drinks. Fire erupted on impact, and spread rapidly through the two buses and the articulated lorry.
Mohammed Quaye, one of the eyewitnesses, said the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) and the Ghana National Ambulance Service (GNAS) delayed in arriving at the scene as trapped passengers wailed inside the burning buses for help.
“The front tyres of the articulator first caught fire. The passengers could not come out of the buses because the doors got locked automatically. It took almost one hour before fire service came, after the buses and many people had been burnt into ashes.
“One of the drivers had both legs cut off before he was burnt into ashes. I saw two bodies burnt in the articulator. You could see their skulls. The damage had been done already before fire service came,” he said.
Thefts at crash site
Before the firefighters arrived, some members of the community had managed to rescue 18 passengers.
They did so by smashing apart the toughened glasses on the bus windows with different kinds of hard objects and, then, rushed them to the Holy Family Hospital in Techiman.
The charred bodies of those killed in the fire were moved away from the scene after GNFS doused the flames and cut the vehicles open.
But the burnt vehicles remained on the road, blocking the flow of traffic along that stretch for about four hours.
It took a caterpillar, brought to the scene from Techiman, to move the charred buses and articulated lorry from the spot, clearing the way for long-held vehicles and pedestrians to pass.
When the caterpillar shoved the articulated lorry away from the road, the lorry flipped over in the process, leaving the canned and bottled drinks scattered all over the place. Some of the people who had gathered at the site of the crash took advantage of the development, grabbing the drinks and carrying them away.
An eyewitness said he saw a man with four packs of canned Malta Guinness, each containing 24 cans, and a woman who did not look like a retailer joyfully leaving the scene with a very large aluminium basin full of assorted drinks on her head.
Gabriel Acquah, a surviving assistant driver, said there were 42 passengers on the bus he co-drove. Awudu Mumuni, another passenger who sustained severe injuries, told newsmen all the items he was travelling with got burnt.
“I was asleep when it happened. I woke up at the time the driver’s side was already burning. The doors of the buses could not be opened after the fire started. I heard the driver screaming repeatedly, ‘I’m dead! I’m dead! I’m dead!’.
“Those of us who escaped have learnt a lesson. We will henceforth travel with our hammers so that we can easily break the window glasses open when there is an emergency like this,” said one of the survivors, Yakubu Alhassan.
A senior nurse at the Emergency Ward of the Holy Family Hospital, Andrews Oppong, told newsmen Saturday that 5 of the 18 passengers admitted to the hospital had been discharged while the rest were responding to treatment.
At least 2,373 deaths and 15,690 injuries were recorded from 14,960 crashes reported in Ghana in 2022, according to statistics the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) made available to Media Without Borders.
The NRSA statistics show that 25,754 vehicles were involved nationwide in the crashes recorded that year.
And at least 544 people died and 3,697 were injured from 3,340 crashes recorded nationally from January to March, 2023. The NRSA says 5,722 vehicles were involved in the crashes.
An NRSA boss, Abdulai Bawa Ghamsah, told Media Without Borders recently that Ghanaians rather needed ‘bad’ roads in order to avoid rampant road crashes.
An eyewitness took the video of the burning buses embedded below:
Source: Edward Adeti/Media Without Borders/mwbonline.org