BODIES of some of the 18 people who died in an accident involving a South Africa-registered truck and a commuter omnibus along the Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway early yesterday morning were piled at Neshuro Clinic, which ran out of mortuary space.
Police said the accident occurred at around 3am at the 206km peg near Bubi, claiming 14 people on the spot, with one person dying on admission to Neshuro Clinic, while another died on the way to Bulawayo.
An update later in the day indicated that two more passengers died on their way to Bulawayo, bringing the death toll to 18, while 11 others who were injured were admitted at Beitbridge District Hospital.
The Mercedes Benz Sprinter commuter omnibus, which was heading to Musina in South Africa from Masvingo, had 28 passengers, while the truck which was heading to Masvingo had three occupants.
The mortuary at Neshuro Clinic can only accommodate 10 bodies and already had three before the accident.
The clinic’s medical superintendent Dr Itai Matibiri said they were battling to ensure the bodies which were piled in the morgue were secure.
“We are now stuck with the bodies of the accident victims,” he said.
Dr Matibiri said they were considering transferring some of the bodies to Ngomahuru Hospital mortuary, about 100km away.
He said post-mortems conducted showed that most of the victims died from head injuries and haemorrhage.
Speaking after visiting Neshuro Clinic, Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Kudakwashe Bhasikiti said the absence of a major referral hospital close to the highway was making it difficult to save lives in case of accidents.
“We appeal to Government to consider building a big hospital along the highway because some accident victims are dying before they can get assistance,” he said.
One of the accident survivors admitted at Beitbridge District Hospital, Mr Tavaruva Tavaruva (29), said he was lucky to be alive.
“I was asleep when it all happened and I believe that I survived because I was sitting on the right end of the back seat,” he said. “I sustained head and neck injuries.
“The bus only left Masvingo at 1am after it developed a mechanical fault after it attempted to depart at 10pm the previous night.”
Mr Tavaruva said two other passengers aborted the journey when the bus developed a mechanical fault, but had to engage in a heated argument with the bus crew which was refusing to refund them.
He said the commuter omnibus had a few standing passengers.
Beitbridge District Hospital staff were busy attending to some of the injured, while two more people were being readied for transfer to Bulawayo.
National police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi called on motorists to exercise caution on the roads.
“Drivers should rest especially when travelling at night and always proceed where their mental faculties allow them to concentrate on movements on the roads,” he said. “Police are still conducting investigations into this road accident.”
The Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge road is notorious for major accidents, mainly because it is narrow and that it is busy at most times.