Ghana Gas Station Blaze Leaves 96 Dead as Floods Cut Power

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An explosion at a gasoline station in Ghana’s capital killed at least 96 people seeking shelter from floods that knocked out power across the coastal city.

The fire department is still working to remove bodies from the station near Nkrumah Circle in central Accra, Citi FM radio reported. President John Dramani Mahama visited the scene of the blaze.

“The loss of life is catastrophic and almost unprecedented,” he said. “We will have to take some measures to avoid this from happening in the future.”

The capital of the world’s second-largest cocoa producer struggles with floods every year because of a lack of drainage canals and sewers to divert rainwater. Standing pools of water have led to regular outbreaks of waterborne diseases, including cholera. The city reported the most cholera cases in more than two decades last year.

Ghana is in the middle of its cocoa harvest, which has been hampered by poor weather this year. The crop will probably be the smallest in five years, according to Ecobank Transnational Inc.

Most areas in the city of about 4 million people still had no electricity Thursday morning after flooding caused by torrential rains.

“Many suburbs of Accra and surrounding parts have been heavily affected, leading to heavy restriction of movement of people,” the Communications Ministry said in an e-mailed statement. “The general public is kindly advised to avoid fast-moving rainwater and areas they know have big drains. Stay on higher ground, where necessary, to prevent loss of life.”

Dozens of cars were abandoned on the side of Ring Road leading to Nkrumah Circle and trash, clothes and wood blocked one of the major gutters that funnels water from northern neighborhoods in the city to the Gulf of Guinea.