A truck carrying explosives used in mining collided with a motorcycle and blew up in a town in western Ghana, killing at least 17 people and injuring others, according to the government. Videos posted on social media on Thursday showed a large blast area in Apiate, near the city of Bogoso some 300km (180 miles) west of the capital, Accra. About 500 buildings have been destroyed.
Locals were seen rushing to the scene as rescue workers worked to find survivors. “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.
He said “an accident involving a truck transporting explosive materials for a mining company, a motorcycle and a third vehicle” took place near an electrical transformer. Local media reports that the explosion occurred when the motorcycle went under the truck that was on its way to the Chirano gold mine, operated by Canada-based Kinross.
A Kinross spokesperson said the incident occurred 140km (87 miles) from the mine. Out of 59 people injured, 42 are receiving treatment in hospitals or health centres and some are in critical condition, the information minister added.
Army explosion experts were deployed to “avoid a second explosion” and put in place security measures after the blast, according to the government.
The police in a statement advised the public “to move out of the area to nearby towns for their safety while recovery efforts are under way”. Those in nearby towns have also been asked to open up public spaces including classrooms and churches to survivors.
“It is a truly sad, unfortunate and tragic incident, and I extend, on behalf of Government, deep condolences to the families of the deceased, and I wish the injured a speedy recovery,” Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo tweeted.
Isaac Dasmani, chief executive of the Prestea Huni-Valley municipality where the incident occurred, said “the whole community is gone”.
“All of the roofs have been ripped off, some of the buildings have collapsed. Some were in their rooms and were trapped. Some of them, unfortunately, before we were able to rescue them, were already gone,” he told Ghana’s TV3.