At least 73 people are dead after a gas station in Ghana’s capital exploded while many people were in there taking shelter from torrential rainfall and flooding, authorities said Thursday.

Billy Anaglate, a spokesman for Ghana Fire Service, said crews were recovering charred bodies at the scene early Thursday morning.

The cause of the overnight explosion was not immediately known. Neighbors say many people had gone to the station amid heavy flooding in the area.

"We are still trying to salvage the site of the accident before we can come out with an accurate figure," Anaglate told reporters, referring to the death toll.

The graphic footage aired on national television early Thursday. It showed corpses being piled into the back of a pickup truck and other scorched bodies trapped amid the debris. Neighboring buildings that had caught fire burned into the night as floodwaters in the region hampered rescue efforts.

"Many people took shelter under a shed at the station during a severe rain across the country and got trapped when the explosion happened," Michael Plange, who lives a few blocks away, told The Associated Press.  

The explosion occurred near the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, in the center of Accra.  

Police public affairs officer Cephas Arthur told the public to stay away from the scene.  

"We must allow the Fire Service and National Disaster Management Organisation to work to find trapped bodies at the scene of explosion," he said.  

State radio reported that Accra and other cities across the country have been flooded.

The Associated Press contributed to this report