Collapsed Church Building: Death toll rises to 18 as rescuers complain

Lack of data and appropriate information is hindering rescue teams’ effort at Akyem Batabi in the Asene Manso Akroso District of the Eastern Region, where a six-storey church building collapsed on some worshipers.

The death toll keeps increasing by the hours.

As at Thursday 2:00pm, 18 bodies have been retrieved dead.

Eight were rescued alive. But two are responding to treatment at health facilities in Oda and Koforidua while the rest have been discharged.

Briefing the media, Director of Inspectorate Division at the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) Richard Amo Yartey explained that the biggest challenge has been lack of information to work with.

“Because we don’t have information regarding numbers in the building before the collapse, it has made our work very difficult.”

He added: “I appeal to relatives to come to the information desk to give information that would aid in the rescue operations because we need to know the number we are looking for.

“The church leadership is unable to even give us the plan of the structure.”

When asked if Covid-19 database at the church as mandated to compile was available, he stated that “we have spoken to the church leadership. Since the lockdown, they haven’t had regular worship. Their head pastor haven’t been well. Some church members came to fast and pray so they don’t have any data of members available”.

Lt Colonel Michael Mfum of the 48 Engineer Regiment also emphasized that work seems to have slowed because figures cannot be verified.

“I have tried to clear the rubble to enable the evacuation of the trapped civilians. The work seems to have slowed because we cannot verify or ascertain the exact number of people trapped in there.

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“So we have to painstakingly clear the rubble to be able to retrieve those trapped in. It is hoped that by close of day, we will be able to rescue any one trapped in there.”

The rescue teams had arrived at 02:30 on Tuesday with two officers and seven soldiers.

The Commanding Officer of the Achiase Jungle Warfare School, Lt. Col. Peter Amoa, also deployed enough men to the disaster scene to give security and protection for the period.

The Asene Manso Akroso District Chief Executive, Alex Inkoom, said a few equipment were coming in to augment the strength of the existing ones.

“There are few equipment coming in, possibly two excavators and four trucks. The CDS also assured us of additional cranes to support the operations. We hope we will get live bodies.”

He conceded the issue has become a national security issue.

“Some of the things are beyond me as a District Chief Executive.”

He was emphatic action would be taken after full investigation.

“After the exercise, a full-scale investigation would be conducted. The recommendation would be a lesson to all of us. And those who are found culpable for negligence, the law would take its course.”

By Yvonne Neequaye||Ghana