9 November 2012

Ghana: Israeli Experts Join Rescue

An eight-member Israeli special rescue team arrived yesterday to complement rescue efforts by a combined security team in Ghana to rescue trapped persons under the debris of the collapsed Melcom Shopping Mall.

The Israeli team consists of disaster management experts, medical doctors with trauma expertise, and rescue specialists. The group also brought along with specialised monitoring equipment and a sniffer dog to help in their operations.

The five-storey ultra-modern shopping mall collapsed in the early hours of Wednesday, trapping an unknown number of people, and killing others.

So far, over 70 people have been pulled out of the rubble, while nine are confirmed dead, with the rescue mission still going on.

Eyal Lampeh, Deputy Israeli Ambassador to Ghana, told The Chronicle shortly after arrival at the disaster scene, that the team came along with medical and specialised monitoring equipment to assist the rescue mission.

He said the group consists of personnel who are the finest in the area of rescue operations and disaster management, and was confident that their expertise would be brought to bear on the rescue operation.

He was, however, not sure how long the operation would take, but said the team would be available till the end of the rescue mission.

Official communication from the presidency also indicates that an additional team of about 150 Israeli rescue specialists, with additional equipment, would move to Ghana, should an initial assessment deem it necessary.

Meanwhile, three persons have been questioned in connection with the Melcom tragedy by officials of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), in connection with the disaster, which has so far claimed nine lives, and injured others.

This development comes less than 24 hours after the President assured the nation, on his visit to the accident scene, that all those found culpable by their negligence, would be punished.

Those questioned by the BNI include Ramesh Sadhwani, co-Managing Director of Melcom, Victor Mensah, and the Works Director of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly.

President Mahama, who was at the scene again on Thursday, commended efforts made so far by the rescuers and for a good job done so far, and vowed once more that that city authorities were going "to be held accountable" for the disaster.

Promotion for bravery

President John Dramani Mahama yesterday, ordered the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Paul Tawiah Quaye, to promote General Constable Nester Aneateba, who exhibited bravery by rescuing 14 victims at the Melcom site at Achimota.

The President made the directive when he visited the disaster site, shortly after the arrival of the Israeli team.

President Mahama, who was full of praise for the policeman, instructed the top hierarchy of the law enforcement agency to promote him to the next rank. The officer, whose name is not readily known, had both hands injured during the rescue operation.

Meanwhile, a high rise building housing the Fidelity Bank, sharing the same compound with the collapsed Melcom building, has since been evacuated. The fate of that building is not known, as investigations are to ascertain whether it meets the standard building requirements.

At the time of going to press, the police administration had effected the President's order by promoting General Constable Nester Aneateba from the rank of a Constable to that of a full Corporal.

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