At least 17 people died and 59 were injured on Thursday in an accident between a truck loaded with explosives and a motorcycle that caused a powerful explosion in a mining area in western Ghana, the government said.
The explosion took place around noon in Apiate, near Bogoso, a city about 300 kilometers west of Accra, capital of this mineral-rich West African country.
Videos verified by AFP show a large crater, deformed houses and rubble scattered over hundreds of meters. the various lifeless bodies, some dismembered, show the violence of the explosion.
According to initial information, “an accident between a vehicle transporting explosive material for a mining company, a motorcycle and a third vehicle, occurred near an electrical transformer and led to the explosion,” said Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah. , in a statement released last night.
By 5pm local time (1pm GMT), authorities had counted “a total of 17 people confirmed dead, unfortunately, and 59 injured,” he added.
Among the injured, 42 are being treated by the health services, and “some are in a critical condition”, added the minister.
All hospitals in the region were mobilized to care for the victims of the accident, and an evacuation plan was activated to transport the seriously injured to hospitals in the capital, the government announced.
“It was a gloomy Thursday. So far, 500 houses have been hit. Some have been completely flattened by the blast, and others show cracks,” reported the deputy coordinator of the National Disaster Management Organization, Sedzi Sadzi Amedonu.
“It’s almost like a ghost town now. Some houses are burned, others are covered in rubble, and search and rescue operations are still ongoing,” he said.
Survivors of the event interviewed by the local press reported scenes of desolation. Abena Mintah rushed to the crash site to see if he could help the victims.
“The driver of the truck carrying explosives ran towards us to tell us to move away and minutes later we heard a loud detonation,” he said.
“I got dizzy and fell into the bush. I managed to get up and saw several dismembered bodies on the street”, explained this witness, slightly injured in the feet and hands.
To prevent a second explosion, a joint team of explosives experts from the police and the army was sent to examine the situation and apply security measures,” the Ministry of Information said in a statement.
Authorities are urging residents to move away from the area and move to neighboring villages. Schools and churches were open overnight to accommodate them.
In an afternoon Twitter message, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo lamented “a truly sad, unfortunate and tragic event” and sent his condolences to the victims’ families.
Fatal accidents linked to the mining sector are frequent in Ghana, although they are generally linked to the collapse of artisanal, often illegal, mines. In June, nine people died in one of these places.
Ghana is the continent’s second largest gold producer, after South Africa. The country’s mining industry involves major global companies, but also artisanal activities, many of which are clandestine.