A freak accident at a popular waterfall in Ghana has killed at least 18 people, according to local authorities.
A huge tree appears to have fallen amid a brutal storm trapping swimmers at the base of Kintampo waterfalls in the country’s Brong Ahafo region on Sunday afternoon, Kintampo District Police commander chief Desmond Owusu Boampong told CNN.
14 students from Wenchi Methodist Senior High School in Ghana are among the 18 people killed, Boampong added. The students were on an excursion to the popular spot at the time of the incident, another police spokesperson said.
Authorities said a further 22 individuals are currently being treated at a local hospital for injuries sustained in the accident.
Emergency teams – comprised of both local Ghana police and the Ghana National Fire Service – responded to the scene shortly after to rescue the trapped victims and aid the injured.
Eyewitnesses told local police that the incident happened around 4 p.m. (12 p.m. ET) during a severe rainstorm which caused three large trees to fall to the ground.
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has offered his condolences on Twitter.
“I have learned with great sadness, the unfortunate incident that occurred at Kintampo Waterfalls yesterday. (1/2)”
Following up with a second post, he added: “My deepest condolences to the families of all those affected by this unfortunate and tragic incident. (2/2)”
Meanwhile the Ministry Of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts said this morning on Accra-based Hitz FM that the minister, Catherine Afeku and her team are en route to the scene to investigate the accident and commiserate with the bereaved families.
Kintampo waterfalls – one of the highest in the country – is located in Ghana’s Brong Ahafo region, around 400 kilometers (almost 250 miles) north of the capital, Accra. Situated on the Pumpum River, it is one of the most visited tourist sites in the country.
Journalists Israel Laryea and Eugene Owusu contributed to this report from Accra, CNN’s Sheena Jones contributed from Atlanta.