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Ghana petrol station blast, 150 dead

By on June 6, 2015

An explosion at a petrol station in Ghana’s capital and flooding caused by torrential rains killed around 150 people, President John Mahama said on Thursday.

Around 96 people who sought shelter from floods overnight at the state-owned GOIL gas station near a busy downtown intersection were killed, authorities said.

Witnesses said low-wage workers struggling home through the seasonal storm with roads closed and minivan buses not running were victims of the blast, the force of which gave few a chance to escape.

People were burned beyond recognition where they stood under the station’s awning, or trapped and incinerated in the wreckage of cars and minivans on the station’s forecourt.

A fuel leak at the station caused the accident that also destroyed nearby buildings, Mahama said, announcing three days of national mourning would begin on Monday as well as the creation of a 50 million cedis ($12 million) recovery fund.

Ghana’s emergency services doused the flames and secured the area, pegging back anxious crowds. Rescue workers wearing face masks retrieved bodies and piled them onto a truck.

Mahama said he was heartbroken by the loss of life and blamed the floods partly on people building homes and businesses on the city’s waterways, blocking drainage systems.

“This loss of life is catastrophic and almost unprecedented,” Mahama said as he visited the scene. “We must sit down and strategise to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

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