At least 50 people were killed in an explosion in Ghana on Thursday, after an explosives truck believed to be carrying explosives collided with a motorcycle, triggering an explosion that sent structures dissolving. ruined and left a deep hole in the earth.
The exact death toll from the accident in the small town of Apiate in southwestern Ghana is unknown. Ghana’s police agency said investigations were underway and urged residents of nearby towns to open their churches and classrooms to the injured.
Police said in a statement the truck was traveling between the Tarkwa and Chirano gold mines, adding that most of the victims had been hospitalized in the nearby town of Bogoso.
Wood, rubble and metal roofing litter the scene in videos and pictures taken shortly after the blast, which appears to have leveled much of the town. Power lines dangled, and smoke billowing from small fires scattered across an apocalyptic landscape. Those who heard the explosion but were not injured stood at the edge of a yawning hole left by the explosion in the earth.
Aaron Awusu, a resident of Apiate, said the truck ran over a motorbike that was crossing its road, and the truck then caught fire. The drivers of both vehicles ran away and tried to warn others to do the same, but some of them were filming on their phones and they weren’t moving.
Videos posted on social media showed the truck on fire shortly before the explosion. People stood around watching, and at least a dozen men and women walked towards it, one carrying a child on his hip.
Then, Mr. Awusu said, the explosion came.
“Suddenly, the vehicle exploded, destroying the entire village of Apiate, killing almost everyone near the vehicle,” he said, referring to the mining truck. “The road and the car were also completely destroyed.”
Initial reports said at least 50 people had died and 50 others were injured, Abdul Ganiyu Mohammed, regional coordinator for the National Disaster Management Organisation, told a Ghanaian radio station.
Ghana Police Department, in a statement, describing the truck as “an explosive mining vehicle.” Mr. Mohammed said it was carrying explosives.
Mr Mohammed said the driver of the truck was not among the dead and has not been charged.
He said: “The driver of the vehicle was able to escape.
After a few hours, the armed forces ordered those present to leave the scene out of concern that there might be another explosion. Emergency services officers have closed the area to the public and are searching for victims in the rubble.
“Several people have been buried,” said Mathew Ayeh, a resident of Apiate. “There are people underneath the debris.”
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo offered condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in what he described as “truly sad, unfortunate and tragic”, and said that translation staff Emergency services are trying to stop the incident and bring “relief” to the residents of the devastated town.
He said in a statement the government would “make no effort to ensure a speedy return to normalcy for the residents of Apiate.”
The explosion came less than three months after a similar tragedy in nearby Sierra Leone, in which at least 98 people died when a fuel tanker explodeda disaster brought the West African nation The health system is under severe strain.
Mining accidents are a frequent problem in Ghana, one of Africa’s largest gold producers. In 2019, 16 people died at a gold mining site in northern Ghana and in April 2018, six people died after the roof of a tunnel collapsed at a mine operated by the American mining company Newmont.
Last year, three workers were killed in a mine collapse in southern Ghana. There have also been many fatal gold mining accidents in other countries in West Africa.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/20/world/africa/ghana-explosion-mining-truck.html Mining truck explosion in Ghana, killing dozens