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General News of Monday, 12 November 2012

Source: BBC

Melcom shop collapse: Search for bodies ends

Rescue efforts at the multi-storey shopping centre that collapsed in Ghana's capital, Accra, last week have ended, officials have said.

The final death toll was 14, not 18 as initially reported by rescuers, while 67 people survived, the officials said.

Faulty construction has been blamed for Wednesday's collapse of the Melcom store, which opened earlier this year.

The owner of the building and the local government official in charge of building standards have been detained.

President John Dramani Mahama said those responsible for the "negligence will pay a price". 'Survivors still in hospital'

Ghanaian army spokesman Col M'bawine Atintande said on Sunday that rescuers had reached "ground zero" and they did not expect to find more bodies.

A total of 81 people had been pulled out of the rubble, with 14 of them dead, he said, without explaining why rescuers earlier said 18 people had died.

Of the 67 who had been taken to hospital, 13 were still receiving treatment while 54 had been discharged, Col Atintande added.

The BBC's Sammy Darko in Accra says the building's owner, Nana Boadu, and a local official in charge of safety standards at the local authority spent the weekend at the headquarters of the Bureau of National Investigations - Ghana's equivalent of the FBI - helping with the investigation into the disaster.

A Melcom official was questioned and released on bail last week, he adds.

Officials from Ghana's National Disaster Management Organization have blamed poor foundations for the structure's collapse.

On Thursday, the Ghana Institution of Engineering said the building did not have a permit, which meant the city authorities may not have inspected the building before it opened.

The Accra Metropolitan Assembly last week ordered three nearby buildings, which are also owned by Mr Boadu, the director of Kinsadus Company, to be evacuated.

The property developer has said the Melcom store building did have a permit.

"There is no way I will put up a building and do a shoddy work," Mr Boadu told Ghana's Peace FM.

"Every document needed to help in the investigations I will provide. I have a file full of documents and receipts showing the building permit fees," he said.

The president has declared the site a disaster zone and suspended his campaign for next month's elections.