Pics: Shocking Thirty One Confirmed Dead As Bus Burns Down

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31 die as bus catches fire 

At least 31 passengers have been confirmed dead and more than 20 people reported injured in a horrific accident, after a bus caught on fire and reduced to ashes near West Nicholson area in Gwanda, on Thursday night.

The bus belonging to Brooklyn Express travelling to Messina in South Africa from Bulawayo, went up in flames on Thursday night, with many of the bodies being burnt beyond recognition.

The driver of the bus who escaped with minor burns, Mr Ndabazinhle Sikhosana said the fire started after a suspected gas tank explosion.

Initial reports from the police had put the death toll at 42 people but has now been revised downwards.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) confirmed that the accident occurred on Thursday night.

“At the moment we know that more than 42 people died,” police spokeswoman Charity Charamba told AFP after the accident late on Thursday, with state media reporting a gas tank belonging to a passenger was believed to have exploded.

“Our police officers are at the scene,” Charamba added.

The owners and management of Brooklyn Express, released a statement on Friday explaining what may have happened last night when one of their buses burst into flames, killing 31 people.

In the statement, Brooklyn Express gave details to what caused the accident and highlighted that the accident was caused by gas canisters which were being smuggled.

Read the statement in full below:

Our heartfelt apologies go out to the relatives and families of the deceased whose lives were lost in an accident involving one of our Brooklyn express buses along the Bulawayo, Beitbridge highway. We would like to also extend our sincere apologies to Zimbabwe as a whole and we stand in prayer with the bereaved families, praying for strength while we all try to come to terms with what has happened.

To those who were injured, we wish you a speedy recovery.

On Thursday 16 November 2018, one of the Brooklyn Buses from our fleet which was en route to Messina, was involved in a tragic accident where it is suspected a gas canister smuggled by a passenger exploded in the luggage cabin. Upon sensing something was amiss, the bus driver pulled over to check and when he switched on the lights there was an explosion inside the bus. The accident occurred in West Nicholson along the Bulawayo, Beitbridge road at 11pm.

The accident resulted in the death of 31 people, as well as resulting in serious injuries to many other people.

Brooklyn Express is a small to medium business with over ten years of experience plying the Bulawayo, South Africa route. The business grew as a result of people who entrusted their safety in the hands of its trained bus drivers.

The CEO, Management and Staff of Brooklyn Express are remorseful, deeply shaken and stand with the nation in mourning the loss of life for such a huge number of its customers and fellow citizens.

As a law abiding business, we will wait for the official report regarding the accident from the investigating team and are cooperating with the relevant authorities.

We have also communicated with our insurers and are working on assisting the victims while conscious of the fact that lives cannot be replaced.

To the stakeholders in our industry; the Government of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the medical teams and everyone who attended the scene of the accident, we say thank you.

We remain a small business trying to play a role in growing Zimbabwe. Travelling with gas canisters is prohibited on our buses and therefore, it is our humble plea with the Zimbabwean community to desist from smuggling canisters onto public transport as this has far-reaching consequences.

In our operations, this accident will serve as a startling reminder to continue to abide and exercise our commitment to high safety standards while trying our best to decrease the scourge of people smuggling gas canisters onto the bus.

Mr. N Ndlovu
Managing Director

This incident happens barely a week after at least 50 people where killed when two buses collided on a road between the capital Harare and the eastern town of Rusape.

Gwanda Provincial Hospital acting medical superintendent, Dr Rutendo Manyathi said at least 27 people sustained injuries with five being referred to Bulawayo after sustaining severe burns. Dr Manyati also said they are working with various stakeholders to collect the bodies.

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