A famous Ghana waterfall was a tragic scene Sunday afternoon as rescuers rushed to save high school students trapped beneath heavy tree limbs that had toppled during a storm as the youngsters swam and stood about at the base of the falls, according to AfricaNews and the BBC.
Sadly, 18 died at the scene and two others died of their injuries at Kintampo Municipal Hospital; 30 others were injured, GhanaWeb reported.
Students and teachers numbering 63 from the Wenchi Methodist Secondary School were on an excursion to the popular Kintampo waterfalls, one of the highest waterfalls in Ghana, located in the central Brong-Ahafo region.
“It was the upper part of one of the biggest trees that came crashing down on them,” fireman Kwaku Boateng told Aljazeera. “It was a horrifying scene as the area was engulfed in screams and shouts for help as we arrived.
“It was a difficult operation because … some untrained members of the public joined in a desperate attempt to help. We swung into action immediately with many of our men diving into the water. We used chainsaws and other cutting tools to chop the tree in pieces in order to free the victims.”
Ghana National Fire Service spokesman Prince Billy Anaglate told the Daily Mail it was an “unusual incident.”
“They were swimming in the river when there was a storm, a windy atmosphere that had uprooted some of the trees and they had fallen on some of them, those who were apparently swimming,” Anaglate said.
AfricaNews reported that “about 30 trees were reported to have broken down at the popular tourist site.”
The BBC featured a photo taken two weeks before showing what the crowded base of the waterfall might have looked like before the tree fell.
On Monday, Ghana President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo responded on Twitter.
“I have learnt with great sadness, the unfortunate incident that occurred at Kintampo Waterfalls yesterday,” he wrote.
“My deepest condolences to the families of all those affected by this unfortunate and tragic incident.”