2 Welders die in fuel tanker explosion

BY: Emmanuel Modey

Rescue workers fought in futility to save the lives of two male welders in an inferno when a fuel tanker they were working on at Wa in the Upper West Region exploded last Sunday.

The driver of the fuel tanker, whose name was only given as Nashiru, detected a crack on the tank while hauling petrol at Wa and drove to the Wa Magazine for the welders to work on it.

Cause of explosion

After showing the crack on the DAF fuel tanker (with registration number GE 1751-14) to the welders, Nashiru left the vehicle in their care and went away.

The two welders were killed in the blast, one instantly inside the tank while the other was thrown away from the tank by the impact. He lay unconscious within 10 metres of the blazing tanker when the firefighters arrived on the scene but he died the next day at the regional hospital.

The explosion was instant, witnesses said.

Workers at the Magazine reported that the sound of the initial fireball was heard about 300 metres away from the scene of the accident around 1:30 p.m. However, no structures were damaged.

The workers, most of whom are Muslims and were praying, unsuccessfully attempted to rescue the welders. They held back onlookers who moved to the nearby structures to view the blaze and called the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) who dispatched firefighters.

Eye witnesses

An auto electrician, Mr Lukeman Alhassan, who was praying at a distance when the explosion occurred, said: "It was a big red fireball. I heard a boom and all of a sudden there was fire. Smoke from the accident scene was visible some kilometres away.

Rauf Issa, a painter, said: “I heard people screaming everywhere, but there was nothing we could do about it. The victims’ skins were peeled off completely in the intense heat."

According to the Regional Police Public Relations Officer, Chief Inspector Gideon Ohene Boateng, the welders washed the tanker thoroughly and when they were sure that it was safe for them to start the job, one of them, Issahaku Yusif, 18, went inside the tank with the intention of identifying the crack and pointing it out to his counterpart, Zeberu Hamidu, 23, who was outside, for him to work on it.

Chief Inspector Boateng said in the course of the operation, the tank exploded, killing Yusif who was inside the tank instantly and severely wounding Hamidu.

The Police PRO said they were taken to the hospital where Hamidu died the next day from the wounds he suffered from the explosion.

"They never knew what hit them," said the Police Officer. Both bodies have been deposited at the morgue for autopsy and identification.

Safety measures

Chief Inspector Boateng said police investigations would continue into the incident and appealed to the general public to exercise caution at their various places of work by taking the necessary safety precautionary measures to forestall any disaster with its attendant consequences.