Huge gas blast rocks Ghana’s capital of Accra, leaves casualties

Fire and smoke rise into the sky after an explosion at a natural gas station in Ghana’s capital Accra on October 7, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
A huge explosion has rocked a gas station in Ghana’s capital of Accra, claiming the lives of an unknown number of people, and triggering the evacuation of a large number of local residents, police and government officials say.
Police said the incident took place after a tanker caught fire in the Atomic Junction Square in Legon, in northeast Accra, at about 7:30 p.m. (19:30 GMT) on Saturday.
The initial blast occurred at the state-owned GOIL liquefied natural gas station and then caused other explosions at a Total gas station across the street, causing an inferno that forced residents to flee.
“All of a sudden, we heard a ‘boom’ and the flash of an explosion, which made the building just shake and the lights went out,” said Kobby Boateng, a resident who witnessed the blasts.
Deputy Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah told a local radio station that the main blaze was largely under control and that the government planned to release casualty figures on Sunday morning.
“Unfortunately, there are some fatalities and we are working to have the numbers,” the official said. “There are quite a number also injured.”
Several eyewitnesses told Reuters they had counted four or five bodies, although some bodies could have already been removed from the scene.
Ghana National Fire Service spokesman Billy Anaglate said investigations were underway and it was too early to determine the exact cause of the fire.
At least six fire trucks and more than 200 police personnel were deployed to help cordon off the area.
In 2015, an explosion in the capital city killed about 150 people who were seeking shelter from seasonal rains and flooding at a gas station.