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18 Injured, 3 dead as building collapses at Cantonments

BY: Edmund Smith-Asante
The rescue team carrying off one of the dead in a body bag.

A three-storey building under construction at Cantonments in Accra last Saturday collapsed, killing three people and injuring 18 others, including some Togolese.

One of the dead has been identified as Dr Prosper Adabla, the owner of the building, while the police were yet to identify the second body which was retrieved around 1p.m. yesterday, while a third male body had been retrieved at the time of filing this report.

Checks by the Daily Graphic confirmed that Dr Adabla was, before his untimely death, the First Vice-President of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce.

Nana Appiagyei Dankawoso I, the Second Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce, who confirmed the deceased’s identity, said “I have been completely disorganised since I heard the news and it is a big blow to the Chamber.”

Describing Dr Adabla as a team player, he said the two of them were scheduled to hold a meeting the previous day, Friday, to discuss some issues that would move the Chamber forward, but he could not honour it because he was out of town and was looking forward to a rescheduling of that meeting when he heard of the disaster that had claimed Dr Adabla’s life.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic yesterday in her office about the incident, Superintendent Brown Mercy Wilson, the District Commander of the Cantonments Divisional Police, who spoke on authorisation from the Greater Accra Regional Police Commander, DCOP Christian Tetteh Yohunu, said the incident happened about 1:30p.m. last Saturday.

Cause of collapse

She said information reaching her indicated that the collapse of the building was as a result of a weak pillar.

Quoting the account of one of the victims who had been discharged from hospital, she said there were six others, including three carpenters, who left them at the basement of the building. “Just as they left and were climbing the staircase when, the incident happened so it is possible all of them are trapped somewhere there,” she added.

Supt Wilson said the police did not know the total number of people who were at the site at the time of the incident, “because information reaching us is that some noise was heard from inside the building the night before and the watchman complained to the mason.

“They saw a cracked pillar and so they called Dr Adabla and when he was spoken to, he was reported to have said that was nothing and that they could just ‘‘chock’ it and work.”

She said the head mason, however, declined to work because he did not believe just supporting the cracked pillar with scaffolding would work, as a result of which many of the masons also declined to continue work and left the site.

Treated and discharged

Supt Wilson said after many hours, rescuers were able to pull out and send 14 people to the 37 Military Hospital and four others to the Police Hospital.

She said three of the people who were sent to the 37 Military Hospital were discharged on Saturday night but they were back to the site, claiming that a colleague, one Kwashie, was not at the hospital with them “and so they were there, hoping to find their colleague, dead or alive.”

According to Supt Wilson, after personnel of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) had created seven openings in the collapsed building, they were able to discover the dismembered limbs of another body about 6:30 a.m, Sunday.

She, however, said the face that was discovered later, was not that of the Kwashie the three friends were looking for. “And that presupposes that more people could be under the rubble.” By press time yesterday, a third body had been retrieved and identified as the said Kwashie, after which rescue operations were stepped down.

Supt Wilson told the Daily Graphic that as of Sunday morning, 10 of the injured, including one female who were sent to the 37 Military Hospital had been treated and discharged, while the remaining four in critical condition were responding to treatment.

Out of the four people taken to the Police Hospital, two were discharged on Sunday morning, she added. One of those on admission suffered a spinal injury and has, therefore, been referred to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital but the hospital claims it does not have the facility to treat him, while the other, a steel bender, suffered a badly fractured leg, Supt Wilson said.

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