DISASTER struck at Tanoso, near Techiman, yesterday when a fuel tanker from which people were siphoning petrol burst into flames, burning 22 of them beyond recognition.
More than 50 others, including onlookers, sustained various degrees of burns.
The tanker, with registration number GR 5145 Y, had fallen on its side at a cemetery between Tanoso and New Techiman on the Techiman-Kumasi trunk road and people had taken advantage of it to siphon the fuel when the incident occurred.
The deceased, whose bodies could not be identified, are said to include a military man who had gone to the scene of the accident to drive the people away.
The tanker had a double compartment, with one containing diesel and the other, petrol.
According to eyewitnesses, the deceased, who also included some schoolchildren, were said to have carried plastic containers and buckets to the scene and in the process of siphoning the fuel, the tanker exploded and caught fire.
According to Dr Ernest Ameyaw, a medical officer at the Techiman Holy Family Hospital, who was also at the scene to help collect the dead and the injured to the hospital, the injured sustained third degree burns, with some of them being in critical condition.
Briefing the Daily Graphic, the Techiman Municipal Police Commander, Superintendent Ntim, said the tanker was from Kumasi and heading towards Techiman when it skidded off the road and fell on its side.
He said according to the tanker driver, who also sustained injuries, when he got to the accident spot an articulated truck coming from the opposite direction hit the tail end of the tanker.
The tanker, therefore, skidded off the road and fell on its side.
Supt Ntim said the military officer who was with a colleague who also sustained severe burns arrived on the scene and attempted to drive the people away but he was also caught up in the fire.
The Techiman Municipal Fire Officer, Mr Thomas Tuffour, who led a team of fire personnel from the Techiman and Offinso fire stations to fight the fire, corroborated the story.
He said the Fire Service received a distress call around 7.30 a.m. and that it took the men 30 minutes to bring the fire under control and about two hours to put it out completely.
As of press time a mass burial was being organised for the deceased at the cemetery where the incident occurred.
In a related development, a Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) tanker transporting gas to the north fell on its side just 500 metres away from where the tanker had caught fire.
The driver of the tanker was said to have left the vehicle in the care of his mate and gone to the scene of the first accident.
There were, however, no casualties.