Deadly explosion rocks Ghana’s mining region

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At least 17 people were killed and 59 injured Thurs-day in a devastating explosion in a western Ghana town after a truck carrying explosives collided with a motorcycle, the government said.

The blast left a huge crater and reduced dozens of buildings to dust-covered piles of wood and metal in Apiate, near the city of Bogoso some 300 kilometres (180 miles) west of the mineral-rich West African country’s capital Accra.

On Friday, rescue workers were still searching through the rubble for victims, while the smell of dead bodies filled the air, he says. Many houses have been completely flattened, leaving at least 380 people without shelter.

“It’s almost like a ghost town,” Sedzi Sadzi Amedonu, a senior official from the country’s disas-ter management agency, told the AFP news agency.

The impact of the explosion has left a crater on the major highway, forcing the police to divert traf-fic, our reporter says. Local police commander William Jabialu said the number of confirmed deaths had been revised down to 13 from a previous toll of 17.

He said another 45 were being treated in local hospitals. The truck was carrying explosives to the Chirano gold mine about 140km (87 miles) from the scene of the blast, when it was hit by a motorcycle, police say.

This reportedly caused a fire, leading to the explosion about 15 minutes later. The driver of the truck managed to escape the blast with minor inju-ries, according to our reporter.

He warned residents to flee, which helped save many lives including schoolchildren. A police offi-cer onboard the truck also survived, but the motor-cycle rider was killed.

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo said the military had joined emergency efforts to help “con-tain the situation”, and “rapid relief” was being sent to residents.

“It is a truly sad, unfortunate and tragic inci-dent,” he tweeted. People have been told to move out of the area and police called on nearby towns to “open up their classrooms, churches etc to accom-modate surviving victims”.

“We continue to urge the public to remain calm as we manage the situation.” A team of police and army explosion experts were deployed to “avoid a second explosion” and secure the scene, the gov-ernment said.

An investigation into the circumstances of the explosion has begun while the tragedy has raised questions about safety measures when explosives are transported on Ghana’s busy roads.—AFP

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