Rescue workers among the remainder of a collapsed building in Accra, Ghana, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. A five-story shopping center built earlier this year in a bustling suburb of Ghana's capital collapsed Wednesday, killing at least one person and leaving several dozen people trapped in the rubble, authorities and eyewitnesses said. (AP Photo/ Laura Burke)
ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — Authorities on Thursday blamed faulty construction for the collapse of a five-story building in Ghana's capital that killed at least nine people and trapped dozens of others until they were freed by crews picking through broken concrete with axes.
The structure housing a popular home goods store crumbled early Wednesday, just nine months after it was built in a working-class neighborhood.
Kate Adobaya, a spokeswoman for Ghana's National Disaster Management Organization, blamed the building collapse on structural weakness.
"The foundation was not good enough," she said, adding that crews worked in shifts through the night to search for other possible victims.
President John Dramani Mahama toured the scene Wednesday and told reporters those responsible for the building's collapse would be punished.
The building was being leased by Melcom Ltd., but the retail company did not construct the building, according to the chief operating officer of Melcom Group of Companies.
Arvinder Singh said he wanted to be "very, very, clear" that the property was being rented.
Ghana's National Disaster Management Organization said that 75 people have been removed from the building's rubble, and that nine of them have died.
An 18-man rescue team from Israel was expected in Accra later in the day with special equipment and sniffer dogs, according to a statement from Mahama's office.