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General News of Saturday, 10 November 2012

Source: Daily Graphic

Seven Melcom staff declared missing are safe

Seven of the nine workers declared missing by the management of the collapsed Melcom shopping centre, have since said they were safe and sound.

Apparently, they were not at work on Wednesday, November 7, 2012, when their work place collapsed in the morning.

This leaves two staff members, Rose Atintuak and Ismail Lutherudt still missing.

With the help of the Israeli team which has since Thursday, been part of the larger Rescue team, six bodies have been uncovered under the rubble. This brings the death toll to 16. The bodies are yet to be retrieved.

Ten of the deceased have been named as Gerald Awuah, Manager of the shop, Sharon Amankwah, Comfort Adjei, Prince Adjei, Michael Aboagye, Dora Odoi, Portia Boateng, Frederick Addo, Esther Avorsoka and a National Service person, Christian Bansah.

And of the 77 victims rescued from the rubble since the tragic incident last Wednesday, 52 have been treated and discharged whilst the rest remain on admission at the Achimota, Korle-Bu Teaching, 37 Military and the Police hospitals, all in Accra.

Meanwhile, the owner of the collapsed building, Nana Boadu Nkansah Ayeboafo, who turned himself in to the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) Friday, has been detained to assist in investigations.

His detention was confirmed by Deputy Information Minister, Mr Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa.

Before reporting to the BNI, Nana Ayeboafo denied on Peace FM’s morning show that he had no building permit, contrary to claims by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to that effect.

Nana Ayeboafo, chief of Kumasi Nsima and owner of the building said he had evidence to support his claim that the building had a permit.

"It is not my wish for the building to collapse. There is no way I will put up a building and do shoddy work. I will plead that the right thing will be said and also allow for investigations. I am so sad but I accept every blame... I have tried to get in touch with the contractor but to no avail but we have not given up; I am sure we will get in touch with him soon. Every document needed to help in the investigations I will provide. I have a file full of documents and receipts showing the building permit fees. And so anyone who will say that we don’t have a permit is just trying to play mischief...," he said.

He also claimed that on a visit to Melcom, he realised that they had packed heavy equipment at the top floors and asked them to desist from the practice.

"I told the Manager and a gentleman called Red that I didn't want the heavy equipment upstairs because it could lead to a collapse of the building but they didn't listen...no one can say what he is not sure of."

Business activities in and around Achimota have slowed down with many residents and passers-by still struggling to catch a glimpse of the collapsed structure in spite of efforts by the security agencies to prevent them from getting close to the place.

As the rescue operation entered its third Friday, the emergency service organisations with support from the eight-member Israeli contingent continued with efforts to rescue any more victims trapped under the rubble.

One of the military men who tried to rescue a trapped victim, got trapped and collapsed but the timely intervention of other rescue team members saved the situation and he was put in an ambulance and rushed to the Achimota hospital.

The Public Affairs Director of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), Colonel M’bawine Atintande, told newsmen on Friday that more people were believed to trapped under the rubble but could not tell the number.

He said the rescue operation teams comprised about 800 personnel drawn from the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), the Ghana Armed Forces, the Ghana Police Service, the National Fire Service and the National Ambulance Service among others.

He said the team was working around the clock to ensure that the life of the last victim was saved.

In a related development, the Police Administration has promoted General Constable Nester Aneateba, the police officer who aided in rescuing 14 of the trapped victims, to the rank of full Corporal.

His promotion is in compliance with a directive given by President John Dramani Mahama when he visited the scene of the incident on Thursday.

When President Mahama heard of the heroism and the ‘display of exemplary bravado’ by Nester, the President immediately requested that he be rewarded for others to also follow in his footsteps.

Aneateba, 27, sustained various degrees of injury after risking his life to enter the collapsed building many times to rescue 14 of the victims. He even fainted at a point and was revived by Health workers on the scene.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, has on behalf of the government, donated 100 cartons of assorted drinks, water and cash of GH¢20,000 to the rescue team.

The Flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo, and his spouse have paid GHC10,000 into a fund set up by the New Statesman newspaper to support the rescue operation.

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