Ghana says 17 dead after officials in neighboring Burkina Faso opened dam spillways

ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — Officials say 17 people in Ghana have died after neighboring Burkina Faso opened the spillways of a dam that was filling amid heavy rains.

Nicholas Mensah of Ghana's National Disaster Management Organization said Friday that officials in Burkina Faso announced in August they would open the Bagre Dam's spillways and warned people.

"We have asked the people to keep away but some have decided to use canoes to get to their farmlands to harvest their crops that have been submerged by the rising waters," Mensah said, adding that Ghanaian officials have impounded canoes.

Heavy rains beyond the dam also contributed to the flooding. The U.N. says climate change has brought widespread drought and floods to West Africa.