How I survived GOIL fuel station fire – Victim narrates ordeal

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bc2c18ba2283a066c88f9b94a1b8ee0c_LBut for his ability to swim to safety, a 32-year-old mechanic would have been counted among the more than 100 people who perished in the Goil fuel station explosion at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra last Wednesday.

Yaw Agboka survived the disaster by swimming under the burning fuel-laden floods to reach a wall around the workshop where he works.
He then scaled the wall to enter a nearby house where he hid until 4 a.m. when he was rescued by the personnel of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO).

‘Close to death’
The victim was with a colleague mechanic at the fitting shop near the Kumbaya Hotel located about 15 minutes from the fuel station when the floods began to submerge the entire area about 9.30 p.m.
To ensure the safety of vehicles under their care, they began moving them from lower to a higher ground.
However, sooner than they had anticipated, he said the gushing waters from the Odaw River started to submerge the vehicles in the fitting yard.
“The water was flowing so rapidly that it soon reached the level of my chest but we could not leave until everything was placed well,” he stated.
He recounted that he and his colleague immediately began smelling a strong scent of petrol in the air and less than 20 minutes “we saw a storm of fire heading towards us”.
“I saw death coming close to me and the wise thing to do immediately was to duck and swim under the floods to one of the walls around my shop,” he stated.
The survivor, who could not give an account of how his colleague escaped the inferno, shared his harrowing experience when he came to the office of the Daily Graphic with both arms in bandages.

Dead bodies
Though Agboka and his colleague were able to escape the inferno that claimed the lives of many people, they both sustained deep burns.
He said after their rescue, they were both rushed to the Ridge Hospital where he was treated and discharged but a trader who had gone to their shop to keep her wares had life-threatening burns.
He could not tell whether the woman survived or not.
According to him, before he was taken to the hospital he saw so many lifeless charred bodies on the streets around the mechanic shop.
“The moment I was brought out of the house in which I sought refuge, I saw a charred body of a drowned woman lying on one of the walls.
“Not only that, I saw many kind people pulling from the gutter dead bodies, some of which had their heads buried in the drains.
“I was overwhelmed by the number of children who also got burned by the fire; I could feel the pain these little children were enduring,” he added.

Agboka stated that he had learnt very important lessons from his experience with the floods and fire outbreak which he had never seen in his entire life.
“I, therefore, would want to appeal to other mechanics and Ghanaians to run to safety at the least sign of heavy rainfall.
“One should never wait till one’s workplace or abode starts getting flooded before becoming safety conscious,” he advised.


ABOUT: Nana Kwesi Coomson

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An Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. Editor-in-Chief of A Senior Journalist with Ghanaian Chronicle Newspaper. An alumnus of Adisadel College where he read General Arts. He holds first degree in Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ghana; Political Science (major) and History (minor). He has also pursued MSc Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Energy with Public Relations (PR) at the Robert Gordon University in the United Kingdom. He is a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow (YALI) who studied at Clark Atlanta University on the Business and Entrepreneurship track. His mentors are Rupert Murdoch, Warren Buffet, Sam Jonah, Kwaku Sakyi Addo and Piers Morgan

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