17 killed, 59 injured in blast in western Ghana

At least 17 people were killed and 59 injured in a devastating blast in a western Ghana town on Thursday after a truck carrying explosives intended for a mine collided with a motorbike, the government said.

The explosion left a huge crater and reduced dozens of buildings to piles of wood and metal covered in dust in Apiate, near the town of Bogoso, about 300 kilometers (180 miles) west of Accra, the capital of the mineral-rich West African country.

AFP-verified footage showed residents rushing towards a raging fire and plumes of black smoke to inspect the damage, while rescuers waded through the rubble to find survivors caught in the devastation and retrieve bodies without life.

“A total of 17 people have unfortunately been confirmed dead and 59 injured have been rescued,” Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said in a statement released overnight.

According to the minister, the first signs indicate “an accident involving a truck transporting explosive materials for a mining company, a motorcycle and a third vehicle” which occurred near an electrical transformer.

Of 59 people injured, 42 are being treated in hospitals or health centers and “some are in critical condition”, Nkrumah added.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo called it a “truly sad, unfortunate and tragic incident” and expressed “deep condolences to the families of those who died”.

Officials and eyewitnesses described a desolate scene against the sea of ​​collapsed or deteriorated buildings in the carnage.

“It’s Black Thursday. So far, 500 homes have been affected. Some were completely razed by the blast while others developed cracks,” Sedzi Sadzi Amedonu, deputy coordinator of the National Disaster Management Organization, told AFP.

“It’s almost like a ghost town now.”

Abena Mintah, who witnessed the explosion, told local media that the driver of the truck fell from his tailgate, shouting at those nearby to warn them to get away from the burning vehicle.

“Within minutes, we heard a loud bang. I got dizzy and fell in the bush. I managed to get up and saw a few dismembered bodies on the street,” Mintah said.

The government said those in critical condition would be transferred to hospitals in Accra and police told surrounding villages to open their schools and churches to accommodate any additional victims.

A team of police and military blast experts have been deployed to “prevent a second blast” and put in place post-blast safety measures, the government said in a statement.

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