More than 70 people have been killed in a fire at a petrol station in Ghana’s capital city of Accra, its fire service has said.
Many had been seeking shelter due to torrential rain, a spokesman for the national fire brigade told JOYFM. At least 73 people have been confirmed dead, with various media reports estimating a further 17 fatalities.
Ghana National Fire Service spokesperson Prince Billy Anaglate said a dozen people were taken to hospital after the blast, an accident which has been linked to the current downpour.
Floodwaters around the site hampered rescue and recovery efforts, and officials at the nearby 37 Military Hospital said its morgue had reached capacity.
Crews were still recovering bodies at the scene early on Thursday morning.
Graphic footage aired on national television showed corpses being piled into the back of a pickup truck and other bodies trapped amid the debris.
Neighboring buildings that had caught fire burned into the night as floodwaters around the site hampered recovery efforts.
The cause of the overnight explosion was not immediately known but neighbors said that many people had taken shelter at the station amid torrential rains and flooding.
Michael Plange, who lives a few blocks away, said many people were under a shed at the time of the explosion and became trapped.
Various reports from local media suggest there was little preparation for a "worst case scenario" for bad weather, despite Accra’s vulnerability to flooding.
One man told a local radio station that he had put his children on top of a wardrobe to get them away from the water coming into his home.
The BBC reported that President John Mahama visited the burnt-out petrol station and appealed for calm as authorities tried to cope with the aftermath of the fire and the flooding.
Weather predictions suggest that Accra will be hit with more heavy rain over the course of the next few days.
Additional reporting by AP
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies