Rescue workers rushed to the scene of a collapsed retail store in northern Accra Wednesday after the six-story building collapsed around 10:30 a.m. local time.
Police, army personnel, and independent contractors used sledge hammers, saws and cranes in the effort to reach dozens of people trapped in the rubble. Many people from the surrounding Achimota neighborhood helped with the effort, using their bare hands to dig through wood, cement and other debris.
Five hours after the collapse, 38 survivors had been rescued and at least one person was confirmed dead, according to Accra police.
Prince Ble, 31, said he heard a loud noise around the time the shopping center crumbled to the ground.
“I’m living around the shop and I hear a very huge sound: Boom!" said the Achimota resident. "So I was thinking it was a tire blast, so when I rushed in I saw the whole shop was collapsed.”
The shop, called Melcom, is part of a well-known Ghanaian retail-chain that sells affordable household goods and electronics. Arvinda Singh, the company's chief operating officer, said the collapse was not Melcom’s fault and that the building was being rented.
“It’s very unfortunate," said Singh. "But, there is one point I want to be very, very [clear]: We as a company are in retail business and this was a rented premises and we had only inaugurated this business as early as 2012.”
Police said the cause of the building’s collapse has not yet been determined.