Monday, July 7, 2008

16 PERISH ...10 Others missing as two vehicles plunge into River Offin (LEAD STORY)

SIXTEEN people were killed on the spot, while about 10 others were unaccounted for, when a 207 Mercedes Benz bus crashed into a stationary taxi on a bridge over River Offin, plunging the two vehicles into the river at Amoako, near Boamang in the Ashanti Region.
The town, which is on the Afrancho-Boamang road, was thrown into a state of mourning and anguish when the Mercedes Benz bus and the taxi slumped into the river after the bridge collapsed.
As of press time yesterday, local divers were engaged in frantic efforts to rescue at least 10 other passengers on the bus.
The driver of the bus, with registration number AS 867 Y, apparently lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the taxi, before the two vehicles fell into the river.
All those confirmed dead were on the Benz bus.
Thirteen of them, including a one-year-old baby, were males, while the remaining three, including a pregnant one, were females.
Their bodies have been deposited at the morgue of the St Patrick Hospital at Maase, near Offinso.
Since it was constructed by the colonial government over 70 years ago, the dilapidated and narrow bridge had not undergone any rehabilitation and distraught residents accused successive governments of neglect.
Three persons, including the driver of the Benz bus, survived the accident.
One of the survivors, who gave his name as Kwasi Gyamfi, told the Daily Graphic at the St Patrick Hospital that the driver lost control of the vehicle while descending the steep hill towards the bridge.
According to local residents, the Benz bus was heading towards Offinso from Tetrem at about 6.30 a.m.
Most of the passengers on board were Muslims who were on their way to a funeral at Kayera, near Offinso.
The KIA Pride taxi, with registration number As 2292 Z, was also heading towards Boamang.
When the taxi driver saw the Benz bus speeding unsteadily while descending the hill, he sensed danger and stopped on the bridge, got off the taxi and fled to a safe place.
According to eyewitnesses, the Benz bus crashed into the empty taxi, sending the two vehicles into the river.
Local residents who went to the scene managed to rescue three people, while 16 others were taken out of the river dead.
Personnel from the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana National Fire Service and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) were on location to help in the rescue efforts.

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