2021-05-30 21:20:32 UTC
ACCRA, Ghana Flooding in Ghana's capital swept stored fuel
into a nearby fire, setting off a huge explosion at a gas
station that killed 150 people and set alight neighboring
buildings, authorities said Thursday.
The blast took place as dozens of people sought shelter at the
gas station and in nearby shops in central Accra to escape the
torrential rains. The disaster raised anew concerns over the
city's inadequate infrastructure.
TV footage showed corpses being piled into the back of a pickup
truck and other charred bodies trapped amid the debris.
Floodwaters around the site hampered rescue and recovery efforts.
Officials at the nearby 37 Military Hospital said its morgue had
President John Dramani Mahama visited the scene on Thursday,
calling the death toll "catastrophic" and offering condolences
to families of the victims.
"Steps will be taken to ensure that disastrous floods and their
attendant deaths do not occur again," he said.
Mahama later called for three days of national mourning and
announced that the government would allocate about $12 million
for relief operations and to repair damaged infrastructure, The
Associated Press reported.
Michael Plange, who lives a few blocks away, said many people
had taken shelter under a shed at the station from the rain and
were hit by the explosion.
Kingsley Osei Bonsu said other witnesses at the scene first
heard a loud bang, followed by screams from those trapped in the
area. The ensuing fire burned cars sitting in the water.
"By the time I got there, firefighters together with members
of the public were trying to rescue survivors and douse the
fire," Bonsu, who took photos of the devastation, told NBC News.
"There were drowned and charred corpses everywhere."
The flooding "caused the diesel and petrol to flow away from the
gas station and a fire from a nearby house led to the
explosion," said Billy Anaglate, spokesman for Ghana's national
In addition to the dead at the gas station, local media reported
that many drowned in various parts of the city following two
days of torrential rains. The combined death toll from the
explosion and flooding is expected to rise. Anaglate said
precise figures were not available at midday Thursday.