At least 17 people have been killed and nearly 60 injured in an explosion that devastated part of a town in western Ghana after a truck carrying explosives collided with a motorcycle.
“A total of 17 people have unfortunately been confirmed dead, and 59 injured people have been rescued,” Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said in a statement released on Thursday.
Officials said the blast levelled 500 buildings.
The explosion occurred in Apiate between the towns of Bogoso and Bawdie when a motorcycle went under a truck carrying explosives owned by a company called Maxam that was on route to the Chirano gold mine, run by Toronto-based Kinross.
Francis Abeiku Yankah, the coordinator of the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) for Prestea Huni-Valley district, reported the complete devastation of the Apiate community.
“The municipal chief executive who was also informed about the news quickly dispatched excavators to the scene to rescue trapped bodies after some buildings collapsed.”
Video from the scene circulating on social media showed homes reduced to pieces of wood, with a massive crater in the earth nearby.
Seji Saji Amedonu, deputy director-general of the National Disaster Management Organisation, said 500 buildings had been destroyed.
“The public has been advised to move out of the area to nearby towns for their safety while recovery efforts are underway,” the police said in a statement.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said the explosion had resulted “in the loss of lives,” without giving further details.
Police were on the scene along with fire and ambulance services, he added.
“It is a truly sad, unfortunate and tragic incident, and I extend, on behalf of the Government, deep condolences to the families of the deceased, and I wish the injured a speedy recovery,” Akufo-Addo tweeted.
Authorities said most of the victims have been rescued and are at hospitals and clinics within the Bogoso municipality.
Nearby towns have been asked to open up public spaces including classrooms and churches to survivors, the police said.