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Church of Prosperity collapsed building death toll rises to 14

BY: Samuel Kyei-Boateng & Haruna Yussif Wunpuni
Some military officers and top officials monitoring how one of the dead bodies was being retrieved from the rubble by an excavator
Some military officers and top officials monitoring how one of the dead bodies was being retrieved from the rubble by an excavator

The death toll from the collapsed Church of Prosperity building at Akyem Batabi in the Asene-Manso District in the Eastern Region has risen to 14.

This followed the recovery of 12 more dead bodies (six last Tuesday night and eight yesterday).

The 14 who have lost their lives comprise eight females and six males.

Seven people were also pulled out from the massive debris alive and sent to the Oda Government Hospital for treatment.

Some of the deceased are Togolese and Ivorians.

Wailing

It was all wailing by relatives and loved ones of the deceased as their bodies, some mutilated, were pulled out from the rubble.

Some of the church members who escaped unhurt told the Daily Graphic that over 60 members of the church were on a three-day fasting and prayer session for the sick Founder and Leader of the church, Prophet Isaac Ofori, aka Akoa Isaac, when the five-storey uncompleted building tumbled last Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Oda Divisional Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Mr F.S. Adikah, the church leader was assisting the police in their investigations.

Rescue operations

Teams from the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), the Achiase Jungle Warfare School, the Ghana National Fire Service and the 48 Engineers Regiment have been carrying out rescue operations, with the help of sniffer dogs.

Four excavators were used to break through the debris in a rescue-and-recovery mission, which was expected to continue overnight.

Many troop to scene

From far and near, a number of dignitaries visited the scene of the disaster.

The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), Lt Gen. Obed Boamah Akwa, led a high-powered military delegation from Accra, which included Brigadier General Nsiah Yeboah, the Officer in charge of the Southern Command, and soldiers from the 48 Engineers Regiment, to assist in the rescue mission.

Lt General Akwa also went with two sniffer dogs to help in the exercise.

The Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Eric Kwakye Darfour, who was at the disaster scene until 12 midnight last Tuesday, returned to the scene with the entire members of the Regional Security Council yesterday to offer practical support.

Also present at the disaster scene were the Deputy National Security Minister, Mr Henry Quartey; the Director General of NADMO, Mr Eric Nana Agyemang Prempeh; the Eastern Regional Police Commander, DCOP Mr Edward Johnson Akrofi, and the Commanding Officer of the Formed Police Unit (FPU), ACP Mr Henry Otoo.

The Eastern Regional NADMO Coordinator, Mr Kwame Appiah Kodua, and the Regional Fire Officer, Mr Samuel Sarpong Mensah, also mobilised some of their personnel from Koforidua, Oda, Achiase, Akyem Swedru and Manso to offer assistance in the rescue mission.

The CDS said considering the gravity of the disaster, he would send more excavators, pay loaders and tipper trucks to Batabi as soon as possible for the rescue exercise.

Minister explains

Speaking to newsmen, Mr Darfour said when the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Asene-Manso-Akroso, Mr Alex Incoom, informed him about the disaster around 4 p.m. last Tuesday, he immediately communicated the information to the National Security Minister, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, who directed that soldiers from the Achiase Jungle Welfare School proceed to the scene as early as possible to help rescue the trapped victims.

Mr Darfour blamed the leadership of the church for using sub-standard iron rods and unsuitable sand and other inferior building materials to construct the building, whose base covers an area of about one acre of land.

He commended the three road contractors working on roads in the area, namely, Memphis Metropolitan Limited, Midwest Construction Limited and I.B. Magida Construction Limited, for releasing their excavators, pay loaders and backhoes for the rescue mission.

Mr Quartey, for his part, stressed that his major preoccupation was to ensure that all the trapped people were brought out, whether dead or alive.