Anglican pilgrims’ death toll now nine The shell of the Passion Link coach that caught fire while ferrying Anglican Church pilgrims from Bernard Mizeki Shrine in Marondera to Manicaland on Sunday night. The incident occurred along the Nyabadza-Gandanzara Road in Makoni District. — Picture: Tinai Nyadzayo.

Freeman Razemba 

Senior Reporter 

The death toll of Anglican Diocese of Manicaland pilgrims who were in Pashon Link Coaches bus that recently caught fire in Manicaland, has now risen to nine.

DNA tests to identify some of the victims, burnt beyond recognition are still underway.

In an interview yesterday, national police spokesperson Commissioner Paul Nyathi implored drivers to abide by road rules.

“The death toll has risen to nine in a fatal road traffic accident in which a Pashon Link bus caught fire at the 26-kilometre peg along Nyabadza-Gandanzara Road on June 16, 2024 at around 1900 hours. 

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police implores drivers to observe all road rules and regulations and avoid recklessly overtaking along road curves when observation and judgement is clearly affected. Above all, public service vehicle operators are urged to ensure that their vehicles are roadworthy before travelling on the country’s roads to safeguard human lives,” he said.

The bus had 66 passengers on board when it caught fire, and 58 managed to escape while eight were presumed dead at the scene.

The pilgrims were returning to their rural homes in Sherukuru in Mutasa District. During the journey the bus is said to have experienced several mechanical faults, including a faulty clutch, and on approaching the 26km peg along the road, passengers noticed smoke coming out of the engine compartment and alerted the driver, Ray Donald Mugari (40), who promptly stopped to investigate the source of the smoke. 

Mugari allegedly opened the engine cover inside the bus near the passengers’ door, and immediately a ball of fire engulfed the whole bus. 

Mugari and 57 other passengers escaped from the burning bus through the door and emergency exit windows, while eight people were trapped inside and burnt to death.

A forensic team from the police headquarters visited the scene together with local emergency teams to identify and arrange the bodies for identification.

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