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Multistory mall in Ghana collapses

Ghanaian emergency services have rescued more than 50 people from a shopping mall that collapsed, killing at least seven people. Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur has declared the collapse a national disaster.

More people than initially thought remain trapped beneath a collapsed department store in a suburb of Ghana's capital Accra that killed at least seven people the previous day, officials said on Thursday.

By Thursday morning, emergency personnel had pulled out more than 50 survivors from the collapsed building which is operated by Indian retailer Melcom Ltd.

"It is now clear that more people were in the shop than initially estimated, and it is difficult to tell the actual numbers at this moment," Kofi Portuphy, the head of Ghana's National Disaster Management Organization, told Reuters.

A team of Israeli experts was due to arrive in the West African nation on Thursday to assist the search for remaining survivors as rescue workers fear conditions are quickly deteriorating.

On Wednesday, Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama promised an inquiry into how the building's owner was able to circumvent the country's building codes after it was discovered that its construction had not been approved by city authorities.

Visiting the site, Mahama ordered 24-hour rescue operations and suspended his campaign tour for the December 7 presidential election.

In a statement, Melcom Chief Operations Officer Arvinder Singh said that the building was rented by the company and not constructed by it. With 26 branches nationwide, Melcom is Ghana's largest department store chain.

mkg, hc/rc (AFP, Reuters, dpa)