ghana gas station explosion pkg purefoy_00000709.jpg
Gas station explosion kills at least 150 in Ghana
01:14 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

President John Mahama declares three days of mourning

Blast occurs as residents seek shelter at a gas station

CNN  — 

The death toll has risen to 150 people in an explosion and fire at a gas station in Accra, Ghana’s capital, the country’s fire service said Thursday.

The death toll from the Wednesday night blast in Accra is expected to go up, President John Mahama said Friday.

The explosion occurred as hundreds huddled under the cover of the gas station and nearby shops to stay dry. A leak at the station sparked the explosion, which spread to a pharmacy and other nearby businesses, Mahama said in a statement.

Victims included drivers of public transportation and their passengers, who were waiting out the rain away from open bus terminals, authorities said.

Others were motorists who had stopped to refuel, said Ebenezer Ampaabeng from Ghana Broadcasting Corp.

Some residents survived the fire, only to be swept away by the gushing waters.

“The loss of life is catastrophic, almost unprecedented,” Mahama said.

Hours after the explosion, charred cars lay scattered across the gas station, some buried under collapsed roofs. Some local communities lost power as authorities urged residents to stay on higher ground to avoid more casualties.

Floodwater also affected some roads, making it hard for emergency vehicles to reach those seeking help, authorities said.

Mahama declared three days of mourning starting Monday. Flags will fly at half-staff during that period.

Heavy rains have pounded Ghana for the past several days.

“Ground saturation caused by the heavy downpour of the last three days, together with human activity such as unbridled littering and building in waterways, has resulted in impeding the flow of these rivers and streams into the sea,” the President said.

There’s “unprecedented flooding” in several parts of Accra, he said.

CNN’s Nana Karikari-apau contributed to this report.