Ghana petrol station fire: Accra death toll tops 150 after inferno during severe flooding

The filling station was full of people sheltering from floods in the Ghanaian capital when it went up in flames

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The Independent Online

The death toll in Accra after an explosion at a petrol station has risen to 175, Ghana’s president said on Thursday.

There were nearly 100 people sheltering from floods in the station when the blaze broke out on Wednesday night. It also damaged nearby buildings.

It is thought that the initial explosion was caused by a fuel leak, President John Mahama said. Rescue efforts were hindered by the floods, the BBC reported.

“This loss of life is catastrophic and almost unprecedented,” Mahama said as he visited the scene. “We must sit down and strategise to make sure this doesn't happen again.”

Firefighters' efforts were hampered by the heavy rain and flooding

He has announced a three-day mourning period to begin on Monday, marking what looks to be the country’s worst disaster since a stampede at a national stadium during a football match in which 120 people died.

“It was an explosive fire and so the people sheltering at the filling station did not have an opportunity to escape,” fire brigade spokesman Prince Billy Anaglate told reporters.

Rescue workers help to clear the site of the fire

People were burned beyond recognition where they stood under the station's awning, or trapped and incinerated in the wreckage of cars and minivans on the station's forecourt.

President Mahama has promised to try to stop people building on waterways. The flooding was made worse by water not being able to drain away across the city.

The disaster has highlighted serious infrastructure problems in Accra and the government said they would be providing £9m to help victims. 

Additional reporting from Reuters