The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has expressed shock at last Sunday’s Kintampo Waterfalls tragedy which claimed 19 lives and promised the government’s support for the bereaved families and those whose relatives are on admission.
He made the promise when he visited some bereaved families at Kintampo with some ministers of state and members of the National Security.
The entourage included the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh; the Minister of the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, and the Minister of National Security, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah.
Others were the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Ms Catherine Ablema Afeku, and the National Coordinator of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Nana Eric Prempeh-Agyeman.
The Tourism Minister hinted that there would be safety audit at all tourist sites throughout the country with the view to update the standards.
Ms Afeku also said the Kintampo Waterfalls would not be closed down and indicated that the quest of the students to promote domestic tourism would not be made to die with their demise.
The death toll from the tragedy has risen to 19, comprising 13 males and six females.
Out of the number, 15 were students of the Wenchi Methodist Senior High School (SHS), while three were from the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), Sunyani. The other person is said to be a national service person who went to the waterfalls to socialise.
The incident occurred when a tree fell from the top of the waterfalls and crushed the students during a rainstorm which was accompanied by thunder and lightning.
Figures made available by the Brong Ahafo Regional Coordinator of NADMO, Nana Osei Asiedu, yesterday indicated that 22 people (18 males and four females) had sustained varied degrees of injury.
Some of the injured have been transferred to the Wenchi Methodist Hospital, the Techiman Holy Family Hospital, the Sunyani Regional Hospital and the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, for further treatment, while others are at the Kintampo Government Hospital receiving treatment.
Dr Bawumia addressed a cross-section of the public before visiting the affected families in Kintampo.
He conveyed the condolences of the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to the bereaved families and the people of the Brong Ahafo Region.
“The President, who is out of the country, has asked me to commiserate with the bereaved families and assure them of support from the government,” he said.
He said the incident was a blow not only to the affected families, schools and the region but the entire nation.
Dr Bawumia and his entourage visited the family of the late Agartha Asantewaa Frimpong, 18, who was among the 15 students from the Wenchi Methodist SHS.
Members of the entourage were visibly filled with grief when they met members of Agartha’s family wailing uncontrollably.
The Vice-President consoled them, made a donation of an undisclosed amount to them and promised that the government would support them during the burial and funeral of their beloved relative.
Dr Bawumia was also at the family house of the late Nicholas Laar, 27, a second-year student of the UENR, to convey the government’s condolence to the family.
He also visited the Kintampo Waterfalls to see at first-hand how the incident occurred.
Kintampo Government Hospital
At the Kintampo Government Hospital, Mr Asomah-Cheremeh, on behalf of the government, presented GH¢1,000 to each injured person on admission for their upkeep.
Earlier, Ms Afeku had assured the people that the ministry would use the incident as a wake-up call to putting in place measures to forestall such incidents at the various tourist facilities.
According to her, the ministry would collaborate with the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet) to set up a weather warning facility to constantly update handlers of the Kintampo Waterfalls and any such facilities in the area.
Wenchi Senior High School
Speaking to the Daily Graphic earlier, the headmaster of the Wenchi Methodist SHS, Mr Foster Antwi-Boasiako, had said “the entire teachers, students and non-teaching staff are devastated by this incident”.
Accordingly, there were no academic activities in the school, “since the sombre mood in the community was not conducive for teaching and learning”.
“It was very difficult breaking the news about the death of the students to their parents,” he stated, adding: “We have, through our counselling Unit, however, managed to inform the parents.”
At the UENR, academic work was going on as usual when the Daily Graphic visited the institution reports Emmanuel Adu Gyamerah.
In an interview, the University Relations Officer, Mr Ben Appiah-Kubi, stated that they received the news with shock and dismay, adding that 57 students from the university had embarked on a field trip to the Mole National Park and the Kintampo Waterfalls as part of an introduction to outdoor recreation and tourism.
“The students and their lecturers spent only 20 minutes at the facility and within that time the incident occurred,” he said.
Dr Bawumia and his entourage later visited the Wenchi Methodist SHS to sympathise with the staff and students.
**Mpactglobal: Enoch Yeboah
(Graphic Online Contributed to this Story)