Saturday, February 09, 2013

Its Tragic - 59 die in Chibombo accident

Its Tragic - 59 die in Chibombo accident
By Staff Reporters
Fri 08 Feb. 2013, 14:00 CAT

GOD is faithful because I was asleep in the bus but found myself in a maize field surrounded with a lot of dead bodies, says Gina Momba, who survived yesterdays' tragic road accident in Chibombo. And President Michael Sata says it is regrettable that the country has continued to lose valuable citizens through fatal road accidents.

A total of 59 people yesterday died in the accident in Chibombo district when a Lusaka bound 70 seater-Post Bus from Ndola collided head-on with a Hermis Transport Truck that was carrying South African branded 'blue bird' mealie-meal bags destined for the DR Congo.

At least 57 passengers on the bus from Ndola to Lusaka died while the other two were from the truck which lost control and hit into the bus.

Police picked 51 bodies on the accident scene, while seven who were critically injured were rushed to Liteta hospital.

Unfortunately, according to Central Province deputy police chief Andrew Mbewe, six died on the way to the hospital.
He said the condition of one of the survivors was still critical.
He said by midday people were still trapped in the bus.

"What happened is that there was a Land Cruiser that was trying to overtake the Post Bus but did not realise that there was a truck in front. When the truck of Congolese registration saw the cruiser, he tried to swerve, he lost control and hit into the Post Bus," he said.
Mbewe said there were 60 passengers on board the bus and that both drivers (from Post Bus and the truck) died on the spot.

He said police also removed two bodies from the truck, bringing the total number of dead persons to 59.

Speaking at Liteta Hospital where she is admitted, Momba, who looked terrified, said God was indeed a living God.

"I don't even know what to say because to say the truth, I don't even know what happened. God is there and I don't even know how to thank him! When I realised that we were involved in an accident, all I did was to see whether my son who is only a year old was okay. Just look at him, he is fine and I am also fine. I only sustained a cut on my hand and it is not even deep and my shoulder is paining but not very much," Momba said. "God is a living and faithful God because I was asleep in the bus but found myself in a maize field surrounded with a lot of dead bodies."
Another survivor, Musa Osman, 32, of Ndola said he was fast asleep when the accident happened and that he only realised that he was involved in an accident when he heard people shouting for help.
"It was by the grace of God that I survived the accident because I was supposed to seat somewhere in front but I was told to sit behind because I went to the station very late. Thank God I sat behind," Osman said.

And Kabanda Bwalya, a husband to one of the victims, said it is difficult to understand that his wife has died.

"It is bad, if she was unwell, I could have understood but it is not easy especially that she called me when they left Kabwe," said Bwalya.

Witnesses including motorists that were behind the bus and villagers that were at the scene when the fatal accident happened between 07:00 hours and 08:00 hours said that a Toyota Land Cruiser driven by a white man from Mkushi overtook the bus but found himself facing the oncoming Hermis truck that tried to swerve to avoid hitting the Cruiser and instead collided with the bus, resulting in 51 people dying on the spot.
The death toll is expected to rise due to the critical conditions in which some survivors were in and have since been rushed to Kabwe General Hospital and University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka.
Chibombo district medical officer Dr Priscilla Chisha said out of the 23 injured passengers that were taken to Liteta Hospital, two died whole seven had been taken to Kabwe General and six to UTH.

Post Master General Macpherson Chanda described the accident as tragic and unprecedented in the history of the Post Bus.
"This is really sad. I don't know what to say because this has never happened before, it is really tragic. We have organised transport to go and help out at the accident scene. We are also going to look into the modalities of ferrying the bodies and the injured to Ndola since most of them are Ndola residents," said Chanda.

President Sata in his message of condolences to the families of the 59 people who died said he was extremely saddened at the loss of more innocent lives in yet another road accident relating to public transport.?"Allow me on behalf of my Cabinet, the first lady and indeed on my own behalf to convey my deepest condolences to the bereaved families," President Sata said in a statement by his special assistant for press and public relations George Chellah. "We pray that the Lord almighty grants the bereaved families comfort and strength during this very painful period."?President Sata directed the Zambia Police Service and the Road Traffic and Safety Agency (RTSA) to promptly step up their actions to arrest the situation.
He wished the several injured victims a quick recovery.
Meanwhile, chief government spokesperson Kennedy Sakeni said government had received with shock and horror the death of the over 50 people.
Sakeni, who is also information minister, said the accident was a national tragedy of immense grief and sorrow.

"On behalf of the government and people of Zambia, I convey deep-felt condolences to the bereaved families on this tragic and untimely loss of lives. As a nation, we pray to God Almighty for strength and comfort as we go through this sad and painful loss. We also wish the injured a quick and full recovery," he said.

He said the government was deeply concerned about the frequent road fatalities on the Zambian roads and would not rest in ensuring that tragedies of this nature were minimised.

Sakeni urged RTSA and other law enforcement agencies to work closely with motorists and other road users in ensuring that traffic rules and regulations were observed in order to make roads safer.
RTSA chief executive officer Zindaba Soko said the accident was caused by dangerous driving.
He said RTSA would deal with drivers abrogating traffic rules and regulations.

Government departments such as the Army, Police, Fire Brigade, RTSA and Prisons were mobilised to help retrieve bodies of the people who were trapped in the wreckage of the truck.
The officers were also involved in transporting the injured and dead bodies to Liteta Hospital and mortuary respectively. However, the mortuary at Liteta could only accommodate 18 bodies and by press time, efforts were being made to take all the bodies to Kabwe General Hospital.

And home affairs deputy minister Stephen Kampyongo described the accident as a national disaster.
Kampyongo, who was at the scene of the accident with Central Province minister Philip Kosamu and works and supply deputy minister Colonel Panji Kaunda, said it was sad because the country had never lost so many lives in a single accident on the same day.

"God! This is a tragedy! This is a disaster to the nation. Losing over fifty people on the same day! No, this is a sad day for both the ministry and the nation. Bus drivers should always be extra cautious when transporting people. That is why we always tell people that seat belts are very important. Its' like all of them were not in seat belts," he said.

And agriculture minister Emmanuel Chenda, who was found at Liteta Hospital, searching for relatives, said losing more than 50 people in a single accident is heartbreaking.

And Chibombo district commissioner Felix Mung'wala, who rushed to the scene five minutes after the accident happened, said it was sad that even those that had been rushed to the hospital were badly injured and hoped that they would pull through.



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