One of Accra’s finest landmarks, the Accra Mall, yesterday suffered a major structural damage, resulting in injuries to three persons and a halt in commercial operations at a part of the mall.
The incident occurred when portions of the concrete ceiling in the walkway caved in.
Towards midday, there was a loud bang which some eyewitnesses thought was a bomb blast, compelling patrons of the mall to flee for their lives.
The quick run for cover for fear of a bomb blast was not surprising because of the terrorist attack on the West Gate Shopping Mall in Kenya on September 21, 2013.
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Some shoppers and security men in front of the Accra Mall. Picture: EBOW HANSON
An eyewitness, who had visited a restaurant at the mall, said he was confused when he heard the loud noise in the mall, arguably one of the most visited facilities in Accra.
Atta Kwadwo Kitiwa told the Daily Graphic that he could recollect the event happening after 11 a.m.
Another eyewitness, Ruth Asare, said she had gone to the mall to buy groceries when, suddenly, she heard the noise.
“I thought it was a bomb explosion. I had to rush for the exit. When I got to the car park, I saw scores of people running from all directions to take cover. There was confusion at the car park, as people were in a haste to dash out of the mall,’’ she said.
An Uber driver who said he had gone to the mall to pick a passenger said he had to abandon the passenger when he saw the chaotic scene.
Kwame Adomako, a taxi driver who works regularly around the mall area, told the Daily Graphic that when he heard the bang, he shouted ‘bomb!’.
“I left my taxi and started running. Three of my colleagues also abandoned their taxis and started running for their lives,’’ he said.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said he was disturbed by the collapse of the ceiling of a section of the Accra Mall on Thursday, October 11, 2018.
In a tweet from faraway Armenia, the President encouraged Ghanaians “to work together to improve our maintenance culture”.
He further sympathised with the injured and wished them a speedy recovery.
Read Also: Ceiling collapses at Accra Mall
Meanwhile, the management of the Accra Mall has, in a statement, confirmed that a part of the ceiling in the Mall Square area collapsed yesterday morning, resulting in the temporary closure of that section of the mall.
It said three persons, all shoppers, sustained minor injuries during the incident and had received medical treatment.
“All other sections of the shopping centre, such as the Food Court and all the shops on the Shoprite wing of the mall, are now operational,” the statement said.
It said an investigation had been ordered into the cause of the incident and that the public would be duly informed of the findings at the end of the investigation.
“All necessary contingency measures were taken to ensure customer and public safety, as a full technical team, comprising engineers, architects, NADMO officials and officers of the Ghana Police Service, have been working assiduously on site to clear up the affected section for public use as soon as possible,” it said.
According to the statement, the management was hopeful that the entire mall would be operational by Saturday, October 13, 2018 but reiterated that the facility’s benchmark for customer and public safety remained paramount and it would adopt every necessary step to safeguard those standards.
In similar fashion, an official of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Mr Richard Amo Yartey, who spoke after an assessment of the situation, confirmed that three persons had sustained various degrees of injury and were receiving treatment at the mall’s clinic.
He stressed that the injured persons, all males, were identified to be Nigerians.
Mr Yartey said his outfit had approved the decision by the management of the mall to carry on with its operations, since preliminary investigations conducted by an engineering team from NADMO had indicated that there was no cause for concern.
For his part, the Greater Accra Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Mr Patrick Adusei Sarpong, who was present on site, assured the public of the commitment of the police to secure the affected area of the mall.
He said in situations like that, some unscrupulous persons would want to take undue advantage to engage in acts such as theft and so the police would deploy more men to prevent any such occurrence.