Ghana Shopping Mall Collapse: Four Dead

A shopping mall has collapsed in Ghana, leaving at least four people dead and dozens trapped under the rubble.

The new five-storey building housing the Melcom mall in the centre of the capital Accra came down ahead of opening time on Wednesday morning.

Rescue workers had pulled 42 survivors from the rubble by nightfall, as well as four dead bodies.

Around 10 people were still believed to be trapped under the wreckage. Authorities said some had been able to communicate with their families by mobile telephone.

The cause of the collapse was not immediately clear, but emergency officials at the scene said the collapse most likely had been caused by structural failure.

Officials said rescue efforts would continue through the night and emergency workers were able to supply trapped victims with drinking water and oxygen through openings in the wreckage.

Large crowds had gathered to watch, including family members in search of relatives.

"My son, my son, my son! My son is going to die! Get him for me! He is my only son!" one woman screamed.

One survivor thrust a triumphant fist in the air to the cheers of onlookers as he was carried to a waiting ambulance.

President John Dramani Mahama suspended his campaign ahead of December 7 elections, and called the incident a "tragedy" as he visited the site.

He promised that anyone found responsible would "pay the price" as it emerged the building had not received proper approval from city authorities.

"A committee will be set up to investigate the cause of the accident, and whoever is found culpable will be dealt with," he said.

"I have had calls from governments who are willing to assist us with a rescue mission and I have accepted their offer. They will come in when it is necessary."

Accra is in the midst of a construction boom spurred by oil-fuelled economic growth. Construction standards region-wide are generally poor and enforcement of building codes is often lax.

Melcom, which runs Ghana's biggest chain of retail department stores, said it had rented the building and opened a store there about six months ago.

"This is a tragedy and we are very much concerned about those trapped in there," said Vitalina Adjimani, a Melcom official.

"Our concern is not about the loss of property but it's about human lives."

Ghana, a country of some 20 million people, is viewed as a success story in often turbulent west Africa and a rare example of a relatively stable democracy in the region.