At least 17 people have died and 59 injured in a devastating explosion in small town in western Ghana, after a truck carrying explosives intended for a mine collided with a motorcycle, the government said.
The blast left a huge crater and reduced dozens of buildings to dust-covered piles of wood and metal in the community of Apiate, near the city of Bogoso some 300 kilometres west of the mineral-rich West African country's capital Accra.
Videos posted on social media showed locals rushing towards a raging fire and rising plumes of black smoke to inspect the damage, while rescue workers waded through the rubble to find survivors caught in the devastation.
"A total of 17 people have unfortunately been confirmed dead, and 59 injured people have been rescued," Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said in a statement released overnight.
The minister said initial signs point to "an accident involving a truck transporting explosive materials for a mining company, a motorcycle and a third vehicle" which took place near an electrical transformer.
Out of 59 people injured, 42 are receiving treatment in hospitals or health centres and "some are in critical condition", Nkrumah added.
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo called it a "truly sad, unfortunate and tragic incident" and expressed "deep condolences to the families of the deceased".
The government said those in critical condition would be moved to hospitals in Accra and police asked surrounding villages to open their schools and churches to accommodate any additional casualties.
A team of police and army explosion experts were deployed to "avoid a second explosion" and put in place security measures after the blast, the government said.
Emergency services are to give a casualty update on Friday.
Nkrumah said he was travelling to Appeatsi to "assess the effectiveness of the emergency response effort instituted after yesterday’s tragedy".
Dr Isaac Dasmani, chief executive of the Prestea Huni-Valley municipality where the explosion occurred, told local media "the whole community is gone" after the blast.
"All of the roofs have been ripped off, some of the buildings have collapsed. Some were in their rooms, and were trapped. Some of them unfortunately, before we were able to rescue them, were already gone," he told Ghana's TV3 broadcaster.