Sunday, March 27, 2005
Firefighters recovered on Saturday 10 more bodies from a Greek-registered fishing vessel "the MV Polaris" that caught fire in dry dock in Tema harbour, bringing to 13 the number of bodies recovered so far, Ghana News Agency reported. At least 17 people were feared to have burnt to death when they became trapped in the MV Polaris when it caught fire at the PSC Tema Shipyard, about 25km east of Accra on Friday. They are believed to be 14 Ghanaian nationals, one Greek, one Russian and one Guinean. The vessel had been undergoing maintenance work at the dry dock for the past three months.
MV Polaris Two companies near the shipyard were also seriously gutted by the fire. Firemen and workers with the Ghana National Fire Service, Tema Oil Refinery, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority and National Disaster Management Organisation were on Saturday still searching for bodies. The fire affected the seawater-pumping house which serves as a coolant for Ghana's only refinery causing an immediate shutdown. Energy minister Mike Ocquaye said it also melted Valco's conveyor belt, which is owned by US aluminium giant Kaiser, in addition to a water pump. VALCO had been preparing to reopen the smelter in the next few months, and is now counting losses of at least $3m. Sources said the fire was caused by an oil spill from the Tema Oil Refinery pipeline that has been leaking for the past week, Ghana news agency quoted them as saying. Witnesses said the fire was ignited when fire coming from welders working on the vessel caught the oil on the water. Stephen Quansah, a mechanic, said he and his colleagues who were working on the vessel, heard an explosion at 10:30 GMT on the vessel that caught fire. The Managing Director of the state-owned Tema Oil Refinery, Kofi Sarpong, said the refinery would deliver normal supplies and appealed to the public to remain calm. He said the Residual Fluidised Catalytic Cracking plant had been reactivated to ensure uninterrupted supply of fuel. Tema Shipyard