Two people have been confirmed dead in Tuesday’s morning explosion at the Trinity Oil/Prime Gas Station at Krofrom in the Tafo Municipality of the Ashanti Region after they had been rushed to hospital.
Collins Obeng, an electrician, and Jacob Williams, an apprentice, died at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.
Both men were said to be working on the premises of the fuel station to seal off leakage of a gas tank when the explosion occurred. They were among the four victims taken to hospital with severe burnt injuries.
Principal Administrative Manager at the Public Affairs Unit of KATH, Ernest Ekow Abban, who confirmed the death of the two, said a third victim, Alex Oduro, was responding to treatment at the hospital.
Ashanti Regional Director of National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Kwabena Senkyire told DAILY GUIDE that the fourth victim, whose identity is not known, is on admission at the Tafo Government Hospital.
So far, official record puts the figure of victims with severe burns at four, while seven others who sustained minor injuries, have been treated and discharged.
Early yesterday, the Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei-Mensah, met with officials of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other relevant state agencies in the region over the incident.
The minister could not fathom why the license of Prime Gas Station was renewed to operate at the place after management of the station had been asked to relocate because of its proximity to school, church and residential accommodations.
Meanwhile, residents have been recounting how the explosion has traumatized and affected their businesses in the locality.
An eyewitness who mentioned her name only as Asabia said they heard “a big bang like an earthquake” at the time of the blast at the gas station, which is along the Krofrom-Tafo Nhyiaso road at about 7:30 am.
“I heard a big bang; I thought ‘What was that?’ and found myself on the floor. My eyes were open; I looked up and realized that half of my body was covered with rubbles. I couldn’t breathe, I was lying on the floor….I don’t know for how long,” another resident revealed.
Tuesday’s deadly explosion destroyed more than 20 vehicles, shops and trapped schoolchildren at the Grace Ebenezer Crèche Centre which is adjacent to the gas station.
Whiles some of the cars were parked on the premises of the gas station and washing bay, many of them were at a fitting (mechanic) shop opposite the gas station.
Eyewitnesses told DAILY GUIDE at the scene that the victims were made up of two attendants of the station, a motorbike rider and a mechanic. They were taken to hospital with severe burns to their bodies, hands and faces.
Kelvin Owusu Ansah, one of the eyewitnesses, said all the preschool children were brought safely out of the school compound by teachers and residents of the area, who rushed to their rescue.
According to him, the motorbike rider was hit by a fireball from the explosion as he passed by in front of the gas filling station, whilst the attendants and the auto mechanic were caught up in the flames.
DAILY GUIDE gathered that fire and emergency services were called to the area shortly after 7:30 am to deal with the situation.
The cause of the explosion was thought to be negligence as residents alleged the gas station had experienced leakage for three consecutive days.
Ashanti Regional Coordinator of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Kwabena Senkyire, who was at the scene with his team, said the timely intervention by fire officers prevented the fire from spreading to nearby houses, the school and the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
He wondered why the building permits were issued to people to build school and residential accommodation close to a gas station if indeed the station was sited earlier as claimed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“We (referring to himself, the Regional Minister and other stakeholders) were here about eight months ago to close the station. There has been an explosion before this one, but the EPA says all the residential accommodations came to meet the gas station,” he noted.
He asked the EPA to explain their regulations to the residents and the general public to prevent others from putting up fuel stations in residential areas or vice-versa.
From Ernest Kofi Adu, Kumasi