Melcom shop collapse in Ghana: More survivors found
Posted on 6 months ago
Police said 69 people have been pulled out alive so far while the death toll has risen to nine.
The BBC\'s Sammy Darko says that earlier on Thursday he saw the hands of three people under the rubble, as rescuers tried to reach them.
President John Dramani Mahama has declared the area a disaster zone.
He has suspended his campaign for next month\'s election.
He cut short a visit to northern Ghana on Wednesday, and visited the site of the collapsed Melcom store in Accra\'s upmarket Achimota neighbourhood.
He said he had ordered an investigation into why the building, which opened earlier this year, collapsed.
\"Whoever is responsible for this negligence will pay a price,\" Mr Mahama said in comments posted on his website.
He acknowledged that the government did not enforce safety standards when high-rise structures were built.
\"We are going to put in place mechanisms to check the safety and security of other high-rise buildings and find out if there aren\'t any more such disasters waiting to happen,\" Mr Mahama said.
A spokeswoman for Ghana\'s National Disaster Management Organization, Kate Adobaya, said structural weakness had caused the collapse, AP news agency reports.
\"The foundation was not good enough,\" she said.
Police spokesman Freeman Tettey told the BBC that rescue teams have so far pulled out 78 people from beneath the debris - nine of them dead and 69 alive.
It is not clear known many people are still trapped, he said.
A team of 18 Israelis is due to arrive later on Thursday to help the rescue effort.
\"The team will make an initial assessment of the site using special equipment and sniffer dogs that will help identify the locations of possible survivors or corpses,\" Mr Mahama said.
Our correspondent says he heard noises from under the rubble when he was at the site earlier on Thursday.
He saw the hands of three people, but he did not know whether they were alive, as rescuers were trying to get them out.
Two pregnant women were also feared trapped, their relatives were at the site, crying and searching for them, our reporter says.
A crowd has gathered, despite Vice-President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur appealing to them on Wednesday to disperse because they were hampering rescue efforts.
Mr Amissah-Arthur is co-ordinating rescue efforts.
He said the building had collapsed shortly before the Melcom store was due to open for business on Wednesday.
The company said it had closed all its stores in Accra on Thursday as a mark of respect for the dead.
In a statement on its Facebook page, Melcom said it had rented the building which housed its Achimota branch on a 10-year lease.
\"This is indeed a very tragic incident,\" it said.
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