An overnight explosion at a gas station in Ghana killed at least 73 people, most of whom had gathered to shelter from torrential rain, and resulted in gruesome scenes on Thursday morning. Charred bodies littered the area, while neighboring buildings were also set alight, according to authorities.
Billy Anaglate, a spokesman for Ghana Fire Service, said crews were recovering corpses at the scene from early on Thursday.
The cause of the blast was not immediately known. Neighbors said many people had gone to the station amid heavy flooding in Accra, Ghana's capital.
"We are still trying to salvage the site of the accident before we can come out with an accurate figure," Anaglate told journalists, referring to the death toll.
Graphic footage — aired on national television on Thursday — showed corpses being piled into the back of a pickup truck and other charred victims trapped amid the debris. Surrounding buildings burned into the night as floodwaters around the site hampered recovery efforts.
"Many people took shelter under a shed at the station during a severe rain across the country and got trapped when the explosion happened," Michael Plange, who lives a few blocks away, told AP.
The explosion occurred near the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, in Accra's city center.
Police public affairs officer Cephas Arthur instructed the public to stay away from the scene. "We must allow the Fire Service and National Disaster Management Organisation to work to find trapped bodies at the scene of explosion," he said.
State radio also reported that Accra and several other cities across the country have suffered from flooding.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Image via Israel Laryea/Twitter.