Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
THE number of Zimbabweans killed when a gas tanker exploded in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg in Gauteng Province, South Africa on Christmas Eve, has risen to six after one more succumbed yesterday.
The blast, which tore the roof of the emergency department at the Oliver Tambo Memorial Hospital, destroyed two houses, several cars, and injured bystanders, occurred when the vehicle caught fire while under a low bridge.
The tanker was transporting liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) when it was caught beneath a bridge close to the hospital and houses.
Videos on social media showed a huge fireball under the bridge, which the tanker appeared to have been too high to go under.
The tanker was carrying 60 000 litres of LPG and had come from the southeast of the country.
The death toll has increased to 37.
Three members of the same family lost their lives in the mishap and two of them were buried at the Elsburg Cemetery in Boksburg on New Year’s Eve.
It is reported that tragedy struck while the victims were at their family house; some 100 metres from the scene of the explosion.
The effects of the fire were also felt at the Oliver Tambo Memorial Hospital, which is located close to the bridge, where 11 nurses who had just reported for duty were burnt to death in the hospital’s car park.
Zimbabwe’s Consul-General to Johannesburg, South Africa, Mrs Melody Chaurura yesterday confirmed the latest death.
“We are saddened by the demise of fellow Zimbabweans. Today, we lost Chiredzi Vushendibaba after succumbing to the injuries sustained during the Boksburg explosion,” she said.
“Sadly, this brings to three the number of members of the Vushendibaba family who died in this tragic incident. The total number of Zimbabwean nationals who perished in this blast has so far risen to six.”
This was after the burial of the father Thomas Vushendibaba (55) and his son, Nathaniel Vushendibaba (19).
Mrs Chaurura identified another Zimbabwean victim as Sithembiso Sibanda (35) from Matobo District.
She said the Sibanda family intends to repatriate Sithembiso’s remains to Zimbabwe for burial, with the consulate assisting with the repatriation.
Mrs Chaurura also confirmed the death of four Zimbabweans in a mine incident that occurred in Burgersfort last Friday.
The Zimbabweans are among eight suspected illegal miners who were digging for chrome at Ga-Maroga village in Limpopo province. They were trapped underground and their bodies were retrieved on Saturday night.
The quartet died along with three Mozambicans and a South African when a disused chrome mine shaft they were working in collapsed on them.
They died due to alleged suffocation when the mine shaft filled up with rain water and collapsed.
“We are working closely with the host government to identify the victims and trace their relatives. Details of the deceased will be shared once they have been established,” said Mrs Chaurura. [email protected]