Heavy rains caused a large tree to fall on a group of swimmers at the base of a waterfall in Ghana, drowning and crushing at least 18 people, police said on Monday.
The waterfall, located near the town of Kintampo, was full of weekend daytrippers when the freak accident happened on Sunday.
Most of the deceased are students from the Wenchi Methodist Secondary School and the University of Energy and Natural Resources, Ghana police commander Desmond Owusu-Boampong told local media.
He added that another 20 people were being treated at local hospitals.
"It was the upper part of one of the biggest trees that came crashing down on them. It was a horrifying scene as the area was engulfed in screams and shouts for help as we arrived," fireman Kwaku Boateng told Reuters news agency.
Boateng added that they had to use chainsaws and other cutting tools hack through the branches to free the victims.
Pictures used by local media showed the tree's thick branches lying in a pool at the base of the waterfall, which is popular with tourists. Other images showed bodies - some wearing bathing suits - placed on the ground.
"We extend our condolences to the families of the dead and pray for the injured who have been rushed to the Kintampo and Techiman General Hospitals," said Ghana's Tourism Minister Catherine Afeku.
She added that an investigation would be conducted into the incident.
rs/kms (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)