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Jun 10, 2015

Ghana president calls for unity as nation mourns victims of deadly blaze


Accra, Wednesday June 10 --  Ghana`s President John Dramani Mahama called for national unity on Wednesday as he led a memorial service for more than 150 people killed in a petrol station fire and heavy flooding.

"There is plenty of blame to go around... We should invest our time in taking appropriate strategy to prevent (a) future occurrence," he said during the two-hour, multi-faith ceremony.

"Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. No one is immune or exempt."

Mahama`s speech capped three days of national mourning over the June 3 deadly fire.

Dressed in a black suit, he said the provisional death toll from the fire and flooding was 152 and government agencies have begun clearing illegal structures and enforcing environmental laws.

He also promised that the city`s ageing and undeveloped sewerage system would be overhauled.

Heavy flooding during two days of torrential downpours caused drains to overflow, inundating homes and businesses, and making roads impassable.

Local people complained open drains were blocked with rubbish, preventing rainwater from outlying districts from running off into the sea.

The fire at the Ghana Oil Company (GOIL) filling station in the Kwame Nkrumah Circle area of Accra is thought to have spread from a nearby residence via fuel on floodwater.

Many people had sought refuge from the seasonal downpour under the canopy of the petrol station when the flames ignited tanks, causing an explosion and deadly inferno.

The Red Cross said last week that 9,250 people have been affected by both the fire and flooding, while 1,125 houses were damaged and 67 people were hospitalised following the twin-disaster.

The identities of the victims of the disaster will be revealed after DNA tests are conducted, said Mahama. – AFP