Falling tree kills 19 during storm near waterfall in Ghana
Kintempo Waterfalls in Ghana (Sean Moran/Wikimedia Commons)
Francis Kokutse, The Associated Press
Published Monday, March 20, 2017 3:17PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 20, 2017 7:14PM EDT
ACCRA, Ghana -- A rainstorm toppled trees onto people at Ghana's Kintampo Waterfall, killing at least 19, most of them students who were visiting and swimming at the tourist site north of the capital, officials said Monday.
Early reports had blamed Sunday's disaster on a single large tree and estimates from local officials on the number of dead had varied during the day, ranging from 17 to 20.
As of Monday night, the bodies of 13 Methodist Senior High School students, three University of Energy and Natural Resources students and three local residents had been recovered at the waterfall in the Brong Ahafo region, about 414 kilometres (257 miles) north of the capital, Accra, said the Kintampo municipal co-ordinating director, Siegfried Kwame Addo.
Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia led a delegation of officials who visited relatives of those who died to express the government's condolences, state-owned Ghana News Agency reported.
Bawumia told the bereaved families that the government would provide burials. He described the accident as a "tragic shock to the nation" and asked the families of the deceased, as well as the chiefs and people of Kintampo, to remain calm and allow security agencies to investigate, the news agency reported.
Tourism Minister Catherine Afeku, who was in the delegation, expressed sympathies to the victims' relatives. "We extend our condolences to the families of the dead and pray for the injured who have been rushed to the Kintampo and Techiman General Hospitals," she said.
Afeku said the government would put into place security measures at the waterfall and other tourist sites in Ghana to improve the safety of tourists and others.
Paul M. Agyemang, a fire officer who lives in Kintampo, posted a video on his Facebook page showing rescuers searching in the brown muddied water below a large waterfall while the bodies of 10 young students lay on the grass.