Page last updated at 10:47 GMT, Sunday, 3 January 2010

Fire guts parts of Kumasi market in Ghana

Kumasi Market (2005)
Kumasi's market attracts traders from all over West Africa

Fire has destroyed parts of one of Africa's biggest markets, at Ghana's second city of Kumasi.

The fire is reported to have lasted for several hours, but so far no casualties have been reported.

A fire officer told local radio station Joy FM the market's haphazard layout made it difficult to get to the blaze.

The station said it was the second fire at the market in less than a year, and after the last blaze the authorities had promised to redevelop the site.


Kumasi's market attracts traders from all over West Africa.

The fire is believed to have gutted parts of the market occupied by many hide-dealers and shoe-sellers, who told the Ghana News Agency their businesses had been destroyed.

They said they were hoping the National Disaster Management Organisation (Nadmo) would help them.

The cause of Saturday's fire is not yet known, but deputy police commissioner Patrick Timbillah said an investigation was under way.

Whatever the reason, the overcrowded conditions common in many African markets meant the fire spread easily and was hard to tackle, says the BBC's Caspar Leighton in Accra.

After the last fire, an investigation committee had recommended improving access for the emergency services. But reorganising markets is fraught with difficulty as resistance from traders is often stiff and well-organised, our correspondent says.

Improving safety inevitably means a reduction in stalls and traders losing out. Profit and politics usually win over prudence, he adds.

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