Dozens of people have been killed in a fire at a petrol station in Ghana. The filling station appears to have been full of people trying to shelter from a downpour, but what caused the deaths wasn't immediately clear.
A spokesman from the local fire brigade, Prince Billy Anaglate told Ghana's "Joy FM" radio on Thursday that 78 people had been killed in the fire that broke out late on Wedesday.
He said the fire had spread to the filling station causing an explosion and that initial indications were the blaze had not be deliberately set.
The Reuters news agency cited Accra's mayor, Oko Vanderpujie, as saying that police and soldiers had been called in to help rescue people from the wreckage.
The AFP agency, meanwhile, quoted an unnamed senior police officer who said that "the fire service alone has retrieved about 73 bodies," while Red Cross disaster management coordinator Francis Obeng put the death toll at "more than 70".
"This loss of life is catastrophic and almost unprecedented," said Ghana's president, John Dramani Mahama, after he toured the scene of the blaze. "A lot of people have lost their lives and I am lost for words."
However, hours after the fire occurred it still wasn't clear how all of the victims died. AFP cited local reports that some had drowned in flood waters resulting from the heavy rain and blocked roadside gutters.
Two days of torrential rain has left some Accra suburbs submerged.
pfd/msh (AFP, Reuters)