Passengers who survived a bus inferno that has so far claimed more than 40 lives and injured 20 others are thankful to be alive after the horrific experience they went through.
The bus disaster happened in a small village along the Beitbridge-Bulawayo road last night.
National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba told state media that initial indications were that several bodies had been burnt beyond recognition after suspected hazardous substances exploded leading to the bus catching fire.
However, those who were on the bus recounted the horror they went through as some watched helplessly while bodies were being scorched to death.
“It was about 50 kilometers away from Gwanda and that is when we started smelling something funny. I was in the back seat and those that were seated at the front told the driver that there was a peculiar smell on the bus.
“However, the driver downplayed it saying it was a smell from the tanker truck which we had passed by.
“So we suggested that the driver put the light on and the moment he switched it on, the whole bus was set ablaze. Most people were sleeping and those that managed to escape are those that were seated by the window,” recalled a survivor.
Another passenger who escaped death by a whisker said she was thankful to be alive as she managed to kick out a window panel and started helping other survivors who were badly injured.
“I managed to kick out a window panel and after I made my way, I started to remove those that were still alive from the burning bus. The fire started by burning passengers before it burnt the bus,” said Elsie Mathamuhle.
Another passenger who narrowly escaped death said he only woke up to find that the bus was on fire before he quickly jumped out.
“I think what saved me is that I was sleeping and I couldn’t see everything. I only woke up to see that the bus was on fire and I managed to escape through the window,” recalled a passenger who spoke to the national broadcaster.
Several other passengers sustained life-threatening injuries and have been admitted at Gwanda Hospital.
This comes barely two weeks after another fatal bus accident claimed more than 50 lives on the Harare-Mutare Highway.
An official from the Traffic Safety Council Of Zimbabwe described the inferno as a “traffic mishap” and could not immediately ascertain the number of casualties.
“So far we do not have the full number of lives lost as we are waiting for information from the primary collector of data but we can confirm that there was a traffic mishap, it was not an accident as there were no two vehicles involved.
“It was a traffic mishap where one of the passengers is believed to have been carrying an inflammable substance which caused the fire and the subsequent deaths,” Tatenda Chinoda from the Traffic Safety Council Of Zimbabwe said.