Four people died from Mutare bus, tanker crash – police

Zimstar News

Despite initial fears over 50 passengers were burnt to death in a Beta bus head-on collision with a fuel tanker outside Mutare, police have since established four people in fact died from the road disaster.

Others survived through kicking windows out and escaping just before the tanker burst into a ball of fire, burning both the truck and bus.

The accident happened at the 242km peg along the Harare-Mutare highway Friday.

The dead included two passengers on the bus, the tanker driver and his passenger.

The rest of the passengers kicked emergency exit panels and helped others to escape despite the injuries of many.

However, 54 of those escaping passengers were taken to Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital with injuries described as serious.

The four bodies were being retrieved last night.

Images of a fire which followed the collision went viral on social media Friday with claims from witnesses that more than 50 passengers from a suspected 70 plus had been burnt to death.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the bus, which was on its way from Harare, encroached onto the opposite lane resulting in the head-on collision with the tanker that was heading towards Harare.

“There are reports that the bus driver had tried to avoid a drunken person who was along the road and thereby encroaching onto the opposite lane but we are still conducting investigations.

“Our officers are still on the ground and we will be releasing more details,” he said last night.

Manicaland Provincial Secretary for Development and Devolution, Mr Edgars Seenza was at the scene with police helping to coordinate the needed resources for passengers, police and medical staff.

He said the accident happened around 5pm.

“The tanker which was transporting fuel burst into flames. Both vehicles were reduced to wrecks.

“As the Civil Protection Unit, we are encouraging motorists to exercise extreme caution on the roads,” said Mr Seenza.

Reports say the Mutare Fire Brigade, which swiftly responded to the distress call, had managed to extinguish the fire Friday night.

The remains of the tanker driver were still trapped in the wreckage of his vehicle.

Traffic was along Mutare Highway was blocked for close to an hour as the remains were being retrieved.

“It so sad to lose lives in such a horrific manner especially during this festive season,” said Seenza.

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