By Whinsley Masara
Eleven members of an apostolic sect were killed, while 119 others were injured when a lorry they were travelling in burst a tyre, veered of the road and plunged into a gorge in Kamativi.
The accident occurred at around 4am when a 10-tonne Iveco truck, with 130 First Apostolic Faith Mission members on board, developed a mechanical fault and veered off the road at the 28,5km peg between Gwayi Bridge and Kamativi.
The apostolic sect members were on their way from Siabuwa in Binga to Hwange for a church conference.
Ten died on the spot while one died at hospital and all the injured were rushed to Kamativi Clinic, St Patrick’s Hospital and Hwange Colliery Hospital.
Unconfirmed reports last night said some of the injured were being transferred to Bulawayo.
National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said: “An Iveco 10-tonne truck burst a tyre, veered of the road and plunged into a gorge killing 10 people on the spot. One died at Kamativi Clinic.
“Among those who died, four are male adults, five female adults and two minors. 119 people were injured and are admitted at Hwange Colliery Hospital, St Patrick’s Hospital and Kamativi Clinic and they all have varying degrees of injuries,” she said.
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said the deceased would be named once their next of kin have been informed.
She said bodies were ferried to mortuaries at St Patrick’s Hospital and Hwange Colliery Hospital.
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said it was saddening that this incident comes days after the Murehwa accident in Mashonaland East which killed 10 people and injured 13 others on Monday.
“It is sad to note that we continue to lose people on our roads. We urge people to travel during the day. We know accidents do happen but we can avoid some of these accidents.
“For instance, people should plan their journeys and travel in daylight. It is also important for people to ensure that their vehicles are in good condition before travelling,” she said.
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said there are suggestions that the vehicle was faulty and overloaded.
“The condition of the vehicle, its brakes were not in good condition although VID tests shall confirm the cause of the accident. The other aspect is looking at 130 people in a lorry.
“I am failing to understand what type of a lorry carries 130 people. The truck was carrying children, adults, teenagers, luggage and honestly this is unimaginable,” she said.
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said everyone should work towards reducing accidents.
“The ZRP expresses its deepest condolences to the bereaved families and investigations are continuing,” she said.
A survivor, Mr Innocent Munkombwe (35), said he was still in serious shock and could not believe he had survived.
He said the sad part for him was that the driver, who unfortunately died on the spot, had tried to warn passengers that the truck was not in good condition, but they insisted that he should proceed with the journey.
“The truck driver informed passengers that the truck’s breaks were not functioning well. He actually stopped the truck and informed us that the breaks were not working well, suggesting that we put up and proceed in the morning after they fix them, but people refused,” Mr Munkombwe said.
“We proceeded and at the steep curves after Gwayi Bridge towards Kamativi, the driver suggested that we disembark and walk until we finish the steep curves as the truck couldn’t pull trough.
“We did as suggested and just after the steep curves we climbed back into the truck. As we approached the Ministry of Transport camp, a tyre burst and the breaks stuck. The truck veered off the road, throwing many people out before it overturned.”
A Binga resident, Mr Kalulu Mpande, who passed through the accident scene, said the tragedy had left the district in tears.
“The last time such a dark cloud befell Binga District was in 1979 when a bus plunged into Gwayi Bridge around this same area, leaving only one survivor.
“In that accident a five-year-old child was found on top of the bus and since then this is the second accident of such magnitude,” he said. The Chronicle