A fire at a gas station in Ghana has killed at least five people and left many more with severe burns after an explosion near the International Trade Fair Center in the capital, Accra, according to Star FM. Eyewitnesses say the explosion occurred Thursday around 6:00 p.m. local time when a fully-loaded gas tanker attempted to discharge its volatile contents into an underground storage tank.
Witnesses report hearing a loud bang followed by an intense blaze that burned for several minutes even as the fire service fought bring it under control. While the injured, many of them suffering severe burns, were moved to the hospital. In the aftermath of the accident, graphic images of the dead and injured quickly flooded various social media platforms.
Officials of Ghana’s National Petroleum Authority (NPA) who have studied the scene of the accident say the explosion had been caused by “irresponsible human error”, adding that preliminary investigations point to carelessness and mishandling on the part of equipment operators. Investigators say they had found two bolts undone in the lid of the gas tanker.
NPA head Moses Asaga is quoted as telling local radio station Joy FM that “The pressure built up and because the lid was not tight, the pressure was able to force the lid open.”
“It came out like a missile… and that is why it spewed out 200 meters into the Labadi Trade Fair site and caused the fire.
Reacting to the sad incident, Ghana’s president-elect Nana Akufo-Addo took to his Facebook page to commiserate with those who had lost friends and loved ones while urging for strict regulatory procedures in all gas stations across the country to prevent a repeat of “such avoidable incidents”.
In June 2015, at least 150 people died when a petrol station exploded in the middle of a torrential rainfall in Ghana’s capital Accra.