Thirteen lives were lost and 59 others injured following the massive explosion on Thursday in the Western Region at Appiatse, a town near Bogoso, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has revealed.
Additionally, 500 homes and 139 families were affected by the tragic incident.
The latest details from Dr Bawumia follows an earlier communication from Information Minister Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah who placed the death toll at 17.
So far, 42 are receiving treatment, with the others in critical condition.
The blast destroyed buildings and other structures, with many lifeless bodies scattered within the community.
Body parts of several deceased persons strewed along some roads while buildings were reduced to rubbles.
A preliminary investigation by the Ghana Police Service revealed that a DAF truck, with registration number WR 2252-18, was conveying explosive material from MAXAM Company, Tarkwa, to Chirano Gold Mines in the Western North Region.
A motorcycle rider from the opposite direction ran under the van when it got to a section of the road between Bogoso and Bawdie.
The motorcycle caught fire and ignited the van, which exploded into flames.
An ECG transformer in close range was also destroyed in the process.
The explosion occurred at about 1:30 pm on 20 January 2022 and left a crater in the middle of the town.
Rescued victims are on admission at various hospitals and clinics within the Bogoso Municipality.
Consequently, a National Emergency Response Mechanism has been activated with personnel from the Police Service, Fire Service, National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Ghana Health Service, National Ambulance Service, the Municipal Authority, and residents involved in providing support.
Mr Oppong-Nkrumah explained that additional personnel and resources had been dispatched to the community to support the response effort.
An alternative route has been created to facilitate the movement of stranded vehicles plying that route.
All hospitals within the vicinity are being used to treat injured persons, and an evacuation plan has been activated to move those in critical condition to medical facilities in Accra so they can get the needed assistance.
“To forestall a secondary explosion, a joint team of police and military explosion experts has been deployed to examine the situation and put in place the requisite measures.
“Early reports indicate that several houses and structures in sections of the town have been destroyed and plans have been put in place to ensure that stranded community members are catered for in the coming days”.
Mr Oppong-Nkrumah added that President Akufo-Addo would visit Appiatse to assess the effectiveness of the response effort.
Police said in a statement that they “have taken charge of the situation providing security to enable the emergency workers including the Ghana National Fire Service, NADMO and the Ambulance Service to manage the situation”.
The law enforcement agency has advised persons “to move out of the area to nearby towns for their safety while recovery efforts are underway”.
They also appealed to nearby towns to open up their classrooms, churches and other public places to accommodate surviving victims.
“Reinforcement of resources and personnel have been deployed to effectively handle the incident. We continue to urge the public to remain calm as we manage the situation. Further updates regarding the emergency evacuation of the injured will be communicated in due course,” the statement said.
President Akufo-Addo expresses grief
Following the disaster, President Nana Akufo-Addo has expressed sorrow as he commiserated with the bereaved families and wished the wounded speedy recovery in a Facebook post a few hours after the incident on Thursday [20 January 2022].
“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 posted.
Meanwhile, he has directed the rescue team to expedite their operation and provide relief to affected persons without delay.
“The Police, Armed Forces and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) are co-ordinating efforts to contain the situation, and I have also instructed NADMO to see to it that rapid relief is brought to residents of the town,” he added.
He assured the public that the “government will spare no effort to ensure a rapid return to a situation of normalcy for residents of Apiate”.