Ghana blast: At least 17 dead after vehicle carrying explosives hits motorbike

“The reports I get from offices, hospitals, is that [there are] about 17 people have died,” Isaac Dasmani, chief executive of the Municipal Assembly of Prestea Huni-Valley, told local media.

A further 59 people were injured in the blast, according to AFP.

The blast appears to have completely leveled Apiate, a small town in western Ghana. Kwadwo Bempah, who works in the area and heard the blast, told CNN that nearly every building there collapsed, trapping people and animals under the rubble.

“This is a real tragedy for Ghana,” Bempah said.

Police said most of the victims were rescued and admitted to various hospitals and clinics. No other details were released on their condition.

“Police and other emergency service providers have activated a full emergency recovery drill,” a police statement said. “We all urge everyone to remain calm as we manage this unfortunate situation.”

“Police took charge of the situation by providing security to enable emergency responders including the Ghana National Fire Service, NADMO and Ambulance Service to manage the situation,” another statement read.

“The public has been advised to leave the area for nearby towns for their safety while recovery efforts are underway,” he added.

Ghana explosion: People fleeing heavy rains are among 150 killed in Accra

The police statement urged nearby towns to open classrooms, churches and other buildings to accommodate surviving victims.

Apiate, Bempah said, is small and residential, with a population of no more than 10,000. “Most people are farmers and miners,” he said.

In the aftermath of the accident, Bempah said the local community stepped in as first responders, pulling people and animals from the collapsed debris and transporting the injured to hospitals before ambulances arrived.

The explosives were being delivered to a nearby mine operated by Chirano Gold Mines, according to company press officer Kwabena Owusu-Ampratwum.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and rescue efforts,” Owusu-Ampratwum said.

Rescuers arrive at the scene of the explosion in Apiate on Thursday.
Ghana has witnessed a series of gas explosions in recent years, with one of the worst explosions killing more than 150 people in the capital Accra in 2015. The blast came as hundreds of residents were seeking shelter at a gas station from the heavy rain.
Last October, at least one person was killed and another injured in a gas-related explosion in Accra, according to local media reported.

In the same month, three people died in another fire in the Ashanti region of the country.

CNN’s Taylor Barnes contributed.

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