HomeLocal NewsPetrol Explosion: 5 More Die

Petrol Explosion: 5 More Die

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The Sunningdale horror blast has claimed the lives of five more people, bringing the petrol tanker disaster death toll to eight.

The five, who were among 13 casualties admitted at Harare Central Hospital after sustaining severe burns, died between Tuesday night and yesterday afternoon.

Although senior hospital officials, acting chief executive officer Dr Tapiwanashe Bwakura and the principal nursing officer, Matron Lucia Godzongere, could confirm only the death of four people, our reporters who were at the hospital last night met with relatives of the fifth casualty whom they said passed away yesterday afternoon.

Dr Bwakura said about half of the 13 patients admitted at the hospital had over 75% degree burns and that several were still in a critical condition.

“This is a national disaster as you may appreciate and we have lost four of the 13 patients we admitted last week,” Dr Bwakura said. “Most of them came with very severe burns – above 40% — while some sustained as high as 75% burns, meaning 75% of one’s body is burnt. Several are still in a critical condition, but some of them are now stable.”

Matron Godzongere had earlier confirmed the same.

“The patients are still very ill, but unfortunately we lost the fourth patient last night (Thursday night),” she said.

A doctor at the hospital revealed that most of the victims who died had inhaled a lot of hot air with petrol, resulting in them swelling internally. The hot air affected their lungs.

NewsDay understands that one of dead was a 17-year-old boy while the only woman, who was admitted at the hospital, Loveness Kunaka (32), has also died.

On Monday, the now deseased Kunaka had told NewsDay from her hospital bed that she and her friends had gone to the scene of the accident to see what was happening out of curiosity. She had a baby strapped on her back.

“I was on my way back home when the explosion occurred,” Kunaka related. “I would have made it had it not been that one of the men who was collecting fuel caught fire and was running in a ball of fire when he bumped into me while I was running away.

“When he bumped into me, I immediately caught fire, lost balance and fell. I was burnt on my face, legs and hands and my child was burnt on the leg.”Kunaka’s baby is still in hospital.

The latest deaths have brought a sombre atmosphere to the already mourning Sunningdale community which is still struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.

The accident occurred when a tanker, carrying 35 000 litres of fuel, overturned last Saturday and residents rushed to siphon petrol while others were mere onlookers. The tanker then burst into flames, killing three on the spot.

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