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Freak Accident At A Waterfall In Ghana Kills At Least 17

The deadly incident happened at Ghana's Kintampo Falls, pictured here in 2011.

A tree crashed onto a group of people enjoying a swim at the base of a large waterfall in Ghana, and local authorities tell wire services that at least 17 people were killed in the freak accident.

The revelers got caught in a rainstorm on Sunday, according to a statement from the Minister of Tourism. She added that "many" were killed and injured, and that they were mostly student groups visiting the area.

The waterfall, outside the town of Kintampo in central Ghana, is a popular tourist destination. It stands some 70 meters high, according to the Guardian, and is "surrounded by mahogany trees and sunbirds."

"It was the upper part of one of the biggest trees that came crashing down on them. It was a horrifying scene as the area was engulfed in screams and shouts for help as we arrived," Kwaku Boateng, a fireman, told Reuters.

"It was a difficult operation because ... some untrained members of the public joined in a desperate attempt to help," he added. "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."

Many of the dead were students at the nearby Wenchi secondary school, the Guardian reported.

"Parents were at the hospital to identify their loved ones who passed away in the accident," Nana Kwadjo Bekoe, a blogger who visited the school, told the newspaper. "The rest of the students who sustained various degrees of injuries were admitted to a different hospital."

Journalist Sammy Darko told the BBC that the waterfall draws "large numbers of local and foreign visitors." Here's more:

"It's especially busy at the weekend and most popular among students, who come from the five surrounding regions on school trips to the site, which is right in the centre of the country.

"Hundreds visit every weekend to see the triple-step flow of the falls, which are surrounded by lush vegetation and large overhanging trees."

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has posted a condolence message to the families of the victims on Twitter.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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