20 students die while swimming in a storm in Ghana

Up to 20 students have died after a storm at a waterfall popular with picnickers in Ghana caused trees to fall on them while they were swimming.

Wind and heavy rain appears to have caused the accident, in which large falling trees trapped daytrippers in a pool at the bottom of the Kintampo waterfalls, one of the highest in the country, in the Brong-Ahafo region.

Surrounded by mahogany trees and sunbirds, the three-stage waterfall is about 70 metres high, and its pool is often found full of people cooling off in the spray.

At least 12 of the dead were pupils of Wenchi secondary school, about an hour’s drive from the falls. The headteacher, Foster Boateng, told local media they had been on a trip to the northern regions of the country on Sunday.
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“We decided to finish it all at the Kintampo waterfalls, so some of the children decided to taste the swimming aspect of it,” a Ghanaian news website quoted him as saying.

“The trees started coming down, so in an attempt to escape some of them fell and they were trapped by the trees. Those who succeeded in climbing the staircase up to pack into the bus got trapped … by other trees that had fallen down.”

The national fire service spokesman, Prince Billy Anaglate, said 18 people were killed at the scene and a further two died in hospital. Eleven people were being treated for their injuries, including one of the school administrators in charge of the trip.

As well as the 12 school pupils, two university students and four other visitors to the falls were among the dead.

A witness told Ghana’s Starr News radio: “A huge tree fell at the top when the rains began and crushed the revellers … We are trying to save those who are trapped by cutting the trees with chainsaws.”

The bodies of the dead and the injured were brought home to Wenchi, about an hour’s drive from the falls, which are on Pumpum river, a tributary of the Black Volta.

Nana Kwadjo Bekoe, a blogger from Wenchi who had been at the school, said the atmosphere there was “very mournful” and students and teachers were deeply upset.

“Parents were at the hospital to identify their loved ones who passed away in the accident. The rest of the students who sustained various degrees of injuries were admitted to a different hospital,” he said.




The players learnt from naive mistake says Coach Micho

We have not been here for 39 years. In the first half, we had what I call stage fright.

We committed a mistake that I cannot explain and Andrew Ayew scored from the penalty.

At halftime, we needed to awaken the players so that they believe we can play in tournaments like this.

We made a risk at the latter stages playing 3-2-5 but it didn’t work. I am very proud of my team and will not look for individual mistakes. My team has shown that we have the technical and physical ability but we still have to work more.

We will play against giants Egypt and Mali and we will make sure to give 200% of our efforts.

We came with a mission to prove that we did not qualify by accident, and I believe we showed that.

We showed that we can play even for more than 90 minutes.

But sometimes there are some naive mistakes may be because of the pressure of being a goal down.

I have learnt that at this level of competition we cannot make silly mistakes like what we have done and we will not do that against Egypt and Mali.

We have done everything to get a good result and this has been a great lesson for my players.

We showed that we are capable playing against the best in Africa.

I congratulate Ghana who are always a top team in Africa. We will have two key players Murshid Juuko and Khalid Aucho back from suspension and I believe we shall get better against Egypt.



-FUFA website

We shall not over respect Ghana says Coach Micho

The curtains will be drawn at the Stade de Port Gentil this evening when Uganda Cranes line-up against Ghana in the first group D match at the on-going 2017 Total Africa Cup of Nations Africa (Afcon).

Although the Cranes have had an advantage over Ghana in the last three years, Ghana coach Avram Grant has said a lot should not be tagged to the past but look at the present.

“Yes facing Uganda is not easy, but we are looking at the present and future and not thinking of how we have played against them in the past,” said Grant.

The former Chelsea coach said he expects a very tough encounter adding that a few details will win the game. Team captain Asamoah Gyan said they are here for serious business. “After losing in the final in 2015, we are hungry to go a step further and will take every game as important as possible,” he added.

But Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic, the Uganda Cranes coach sounded very confident on how prepared his team is. “We respect the Ghana team, but we shall not over respect them but simply go on the pitch and play good football,” said Sredojevic.

First choice goalkeeper and African Player of the year 2016 (African based) Denis Onyango said opening group games are always very difficult. “We shall treat this game as a final because it is the first one we are playing in Afcon after 39 years of waiting,” added Onyango.

While defender Murushid Juuko and Khalid Aucho are suspended for the game after accumulating two yellow cards during the qualifiers, the Cranes will look to Geoffrey Massa, Tony Mawejje and Farouk Miya are some of the players expected to play pivotal roles for the Uganda Cranes.

Gyan will lead Ghana together with Christian Atsu Twasam and Andre Pierre Ayew. The second group D game will see Egypt facing Mali.




A fake US embassy has operated in Ghana for more than a decade

Authorities in Ghana have busted a fake US embassy in the capital Accra run by a criminal network that for a decade issued illegally obtained authentic visas, the US State Department has said.

Until it was shut down, the sham embassy was housed in a rundown, pink two-storey building with a corrugated iron roof and flew an American flag outside. Inside hung a portrait of the US president, Barack Obama.

“It was not operated by the United States government, but by figures from both Ghanaian and Turkish organised crime rings and a Ghanaian attorney practising immigration and criminal law,” the State Department said in a statement.

Turkish citizens who spoke English and Dutch posed as consular officers and staffed the operation. Investigations also uncovered a fake Dutch embassy, the State Department said.

Officials in the Netherlands were not immediately reachable for comment on Sunday.

The crime ring issued fraudulently obtained but legitimate US visas and false identification documents, including birth certificates at a cost of $6,000 (£4,700) each, the statement said.

During raids that led to a number of arrests, authorities also seized authentic and counterfeit Indian, South African and Schengen zone visas and 150 passports from 10 different countries along with a laptop and smartphones.

The statement did not say how the gang obtained the authentic visas or how many people were believed to have illegally entered the US and other countries using visas issued by the crime ring.

“The criminals running the operation were able to pay off corrupt officials to look the other way, as well as obtain legitimate blank documents to be doctored,” the statement said.

There was no immediate comment from Ghana’s Criminal Investigations Division.

Visas for western countries are in high demand in Africa and embassies say the visa market is a big target for organised crime.

The real US embassy in Ghana is a prominent and heavily fortified complex in Cantonments, one of the capital’s most expensive neighbourhoods. Lines of people queue outside each day for visa appointments and other consular business.

The fake embassy was open three mornings a week and did not accept walk-in appointments. Instead, the criminals advertised on billboards in Ghana, Togo and Ivory Coast and brought clients from across west Africa to Accra where they rented them hotel rooms in nearby hotels.

US authorities conducting a broader security operation were tipped off about it and assembled a team including the Ghana Detectives Bureau and police as well as other international partners to shut down the ring.