Six Ghanaian youth players have been confirmed dead after a bus they were travelling in crashed into a river on Saturday, the Ghana Football Association have announced.
The accident occurred on the Kumasi-Offinso road in Ghana's Ashanti region.
"The leadership of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), and the National Juvenile Committee (NJC) have learnt of the passing of six juvenile football players on Saturday, September 18, 2020 at Offinso, near Kumasi in the Ashanti Region," the GFA announced on its official website on Saturday night.
"The GFA wishes to express our deepest condolences to the family of the six young footballers who passed away after the car they were traveling on submerged," the statement continued. "We are informed that the players and their handlers were headed to Afrancho having undergone their District Colts football registration exercise at Offinso.
"The GFA and the NJC have dispatched a team to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi to visit the accident victims."
The juvenile cub, said to be the Africa Vision Soccer Academy, were on their way back to Offinso from the town of Afrancho where they underwent registration for the upcoming District Juvenile League.
The crash victims, who are understood to be between the ages of 12 and 16, were transported to the Offinso St. Patrick Hospital, with local reports suggesting that some other players from the accident are in a critical condition.
Unverified videos have appeared on social media which appear to depict the aftermath of the incident; one shows several other travellers nursing injuries, while another portrays victims being rescued from the bus, which is understood to have burst a tyre.
“There were 36 passengers onboard," Divisional Commander for the Offinso Motor Traffic and Transport Department of the Ghana Police Service, DSP Edmund Nyamekye told Citi News. "Our investigation revealed that the passengers were made up of football team members who were returning after taking part in a league [registration].
"Upon reaching the spot at River Offin, as a result of speeding, the driver lost control of the steering wheel, veered off the road and entered into the river.
"Six of the passengers between the ages of 12 and 16 died on the spot. 30 others sustained injuries. They were sent to the St. Patrick hospital for treatment."
Currently in Ghana, all contact sports, including football competitions, are under a national ban as part of measures to curb spread of the coronavirus disease, which has disrupted socio-economic activities around the world.
The GFA has, however, opened the window for player registration in anticipation of imminent lifting of the ban to allow resumption of the various national leagues.