More people trapped under Ghana mall rubble than first thought

Thu Nov 8, 2012 10:48am GMT
 

By Kwasi Kpodo

ACCRA (Reuters) - More people than initially thought remain trapped beneath a collapsed four-storey department store in a suburb of Ghana's capital Accra that killed at least seven people the previous day, officials said on Thursday.

The authorities had initially estimated that around 55 people were inside when it collapsed due to a suspected structural failure, but that figure was based on the number of employees working there at the time and did not factor in the number of shoppers too.

By Thursday morning, emergency personnel had pulled out 61 survivors and recovered seven dead bodies from the building, which housed a mall operated by Indian retailer Melcom Ltd.

A team of Israeli experts was due to arrive in the West African nation on Thursday to assist a search for remaining survivors as rescue workers said they feared their condition was quickly deteriorating.

"It is now clear that more people were in the shop than initially estimated, and it is difficult to tell the actual numbers at this moment," Kofi Portuphy, the head of Ghana's National Disaster Management Organisation, told Reuters.

"Certainly the conditions of any survivors down there will be deteriorating and it is our hope to get them out as quickly as we can," he said.

The ambulance service shuttling victims from the site to a local hospital said survivors had sustained injuries of varying seriousness.

INQUIRY   Continued...

Rescue workers look for survivors from the debris of a collapsed building rented by Melcom Ltd, which runs Ghana's largest chain of retail department stores, in Accra November 7, 2012. The four-storey building housing a department store in Ghana's capital Accra collapsed on Wednesday, killing at least one person and trapping dozens inside, emergency officials and witnesses said. REUTERS/Stringer
 
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