An explosion at a petrol station in Ghana’s capital killed around 90 people sheltering from a storm early on Thursday, emergency services said, in the worst disaster to strike the West African state in more than a decade.
The force of the blast gave few a chance to escape. People were burned beyond recognition where they stood under the station’s awning, or trapped in the charred wreckage of cars and minivans parked on its forecourt.
The accident was caused by a fire at a nearby lorry terminal. Flames spread to the state-run GOIL petrol station via spilt fuel floating on flood water, fire brigade spokesman Prince Billy Anaglate said.
“It was an explosive fire and so the people sheltering at the filling station did not have an opportunity to escape,” Anaglate said.
It was Ghana’s worst disaster since more than 120 people died in May 2001 in a stampede at the national stadium during a football match, a police spokesman said.
The incident exposed Accra’s vulnerability to storms, given poor drainage and weak infrastructure that has failed to keep pace with population growth after years of rapid economic expansion.
Ghana’s meteorological service forecast more rain on Thursday.