I was in class when we heard the news. I was in class with 35 other girls, some of whom had parents in Accra where the incident happened. Now it’s called the June 3rd disaster. Sometimes, being in boarding school can be a pain. We didn’t have access to the news except the bits and pieces we got from the newspapers that come in quite late. Our teachers were our only sources of information at the time. My English teacher showed the whole class pictures of the incident on her phone. We saw the numerous burnt cars which had people in them. We saw the charred bodies of people who were once aunties and uncles. We saw the black distorted Shell filling station with the cars and buses that went to take shelter there. We saw things that made some girls cry.
“Miss Davis, how many bodies have been found now?”
“150. But don’t worry. Just keep praying for your families.”
Oh like it’s easy to stay calm when you have no idea if any of your family members is part of the number. Why the hell can we only call home on weekends? It was frustrating for my friends and I. The disaster happened at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Accra. Over 250 people lost their lives when they happened. Yes, I said they because first, there was a flood that was already claiming lives and then there was the Shell gas explosion that made matters even worse.
Imagine walking home from school and seeing that the streets are flooded so you try to take shelter in a gas station only to have the station blow up as a result of the negligence of the city authorities. That’s what happened to countless school children, workers, teachers, mothers and fathers on their way home. Those who were already home were not left out. The depth of the flood was scary. Can I safely say it was higher than a double-decker bus? Those who were home had to deal with, not only the flood but, the heat of the water from the explosion. Some survived to tell the story of how grim it was to swim in the scalding hot water which contained fuel in addition. Others didn’t even know how they made it out alive.
Let me tell you the sore part, there was fire on the surface of the water as a result of the presence of the fuel. People, including babies, had to choose between burning and drowning in the heat. A couple of days later, one kind teacher gave my friend and me his phone to call home and find out about our families. That is totally against the school rules, by the way. Thankfully, all our family members were fine. My mother told me that my father didn’t come home that night because he also took shelter in another Shell gas station. That was when I cried.
I cried because my father could have been a part of those bodies that were burnt beyond recognition. I thanked God that where my dad was didn’t explode but then I cried for the other children like sixteen year old me or even younger who had lost their parents in such a tragic manner. It taught me that every day is a blessing. It taught me that life can easily take a wrong turn so we need to appreciate those around us. I realised, very painfully, that our authorities only wait for some people to die before they take action and that angers me and scares me as well. June 3rd, 2015 is a day Ghanaians won’t forget especially those who have scars and deformities that remind them daily.
This is in response to Gracie‘s request that bloggers share with her events that have affected the way they live their lives. It’s a pity mine has to be so gloomy.