It was all wailing at Apeati, a town between Bogoso and Bawdie, in the Prestea Hunivalley Municipality of the Western Region, when a devastating explosion reduced the entire town to debris yesterday.
Apeati is now a ghost town because almost all buildings in the community were razed to the ground by the blast.
At the time of going to press yesterday, more than 50 people were feared dead, with many more going unconscious.
The explosion involved a vehicle that was reportedly transporting explosives from Tarkwa to a mining site at Chirano.
The blast led to the main road linking the community to Bawdie and Kumasi, in Ashanti Region, being split into two, preventing movement of vehicles. Some vehicles were torn into pieces, while others had their windscreen shattered.
Reports indicated that the Bogoso Government Hospital and all health facilities in the municipality were filled with victims of the blast, with health professionals working very hard to save lives.
According to an eye witness account, the blast occurred when a motor bike crushed into a parked vehicle belonging to Maxam Company, an explosive supplying company in Tarkwa. The vehicle was said to be conveying explosives to a mining company in the area, but got broken down and parked along the street of Apeati.
The motor bike rider who was also passing by lost control of his steer and drove straight into the parked vehicle. The explosives got into contact with an ECG transformer, resulting in the blast, according to the local people.
Meanwhile, the Police, in collaboration with other emergency service providers, “activated a full emergency recovery exercise”, as they rushed charred bodies of dead and injured persons to nearby hospitals and mortuaries in the area.
“Preliminary investigation has established that a mining explosive vehicle moving from Tarkwa to Chirano mines collided with a motorcycle, resulting in the explosion,” the Police said in a release.
“Some of the victims have been rescued and are on admission at various hospitals and clinics within the Bogoso Municipality,” the release added.
The Police advised the public to move out of the area to nearby towns for their safety while recovery efforts were underway.
They also appealed to nearby towns to open up their classrooms, churches, among others, to accommodate surviving victims, while resources and personnel were being deployed to the area to assist in the handling of the situation.
In a related development, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo assured that the Police, Armed Forces and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) were coordinating efforts to contain the situation.
“I have also instructed NADMO to see to it that rapid relief is brought to residents of the town as efforts are made to ensure a rapid return to a situation of normalcy for residents of Apeati,” he said yesterday in post to commiserate with the town, especially the victims.
“I have just received a briefing on the circumstances that led to an explosion in Apeati, near Bogoso, in the Western Region, resulting in the loss of lives and the destruction of properties belonging to residents. It is a truly sad, unfortunate and tragic incident, and I extend, on behalf of Government, deep condolences to the families of the deceased, and I wish the injured a speedy recovery,” he added.