At least 42 killed as Zimbabwe bus catches fire

The burnt out remains of a passenger bus that caught fire are seen near Beitbridge, Zimbabwe.

At least 42 people are feared to have been killed and at least 27 were hospitalized, after a bus caught fire near the village of West Nicholson in southwestern Zimbabwe. 

The state-owned Herald newspaper said on its Twitter feed that "it is suspected a gas tank belonging to one of the passengers caused the inferno in the bus. Dozens have been confirmed dead and several others injured through burns.

The paper cited the bus driver, Ndabazinhle Sikhosana, who survived with minor burns saying the "fire started after an explosion".

ZBC reported that injured survivors being treated at Gwanda town hospital alleged that a gas smell engulfed the bus after dark before the conductor switched on the lights and the bus caught fire.

It said about 30 people were injured, adding the vehicle was travelling from Zvishavane to the Beitbridge crossing via the town of Filabusi when the explosion happened.

Last week, 50 people were killed when two buses collided on a road between the capital Harare and the eastern town of Rusape.

"I was devastated to learn of last night’s tragedy, the second major accident in recent weeks," President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Twitter. "I urge all my fellow citizens to be extra cautious on the roads- check the safety of your vehicles, slow down, put safety first."

Traffic accidents are common in Zimbabwe, where roads are riddled with potholes due to years of underfunding and neglect, and driving standards can be poor. In June last year, 43 people were killed in a bus crash in the north, along the highway leading to neighbouring Zambia.

(Source: AFP)

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