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Ghana Death Toll Rises to 150 After Explosion, Flooding

Rescue workers carry a body from the remains of a fuel station that exploded overnight in Accra, Ghana, June 4, 2015.
Rescue workers carry a body from the remains of a fuel station that exploded overnight in Accra, Ghana, June 4, 2015.

Ghana's president says the death toll from a gas station explosion in the capital and widespread flooding has increased to 150 people.

President John Mahama told journalists Thursday evening that the country will observe three days of mourning for the victims, and that the government will allocate about $12 million for relief operations and to repair damaged infrastructure.

Reports from the scene said the explosion and resulting fire took place at a gas station and spread to nearby buildings near the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in central Accra. The blast took place as dozens of people sought shelter at the gas station from torrential rain.

Accra, Ghana
Accra, Ghana

Fire brigade spokesman Billy Anaglate said the blast was caused by a fire that erupted at a nearby building then spread to the gas station and other buildings.

"Because it is a filling station there were a lot of fuel particles around it and it got contaminated with the water," he said. "But it's running water so it was able to run from the filling station to a distance where there was a naked fire and it picked [up] the fire from there."

Officials say local hospitals have taken as many bodies as they can accommodate. The search for more victims continues, and officials have warned that the death toll is likely to rise.

Television footage and photos of the accident site show graphic images of charred bodies and vehicles, and churning waters in nearby streets.

President John Mahama has visited the scene of the accident, along with the mayor of Accra and a member of parliament. The president told reporters the loss of life is "catastrophic" and vowed such an incident will not be repeated.

He blamed the floods partly on people building homes and businesses on waterways, blocking the city's drainage systems. He said the government will have to take some measures, including removing some of these buildings, in order to prevent it from happening again.

Accra has suffered two days of heavy rains that have flooded homes, caused power outages, and left some roads impassable. Officials said the toll from the accident is high because people had gathered at the fuel station and nearby buildings to escape the floods. The flooding has also hampered rescue operations.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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