EIGHTEEN people died in a horrific crash yesterday morning when a Mercedes Benz Sprinter collided head on with a South Africa registered Hino truck at the 206km peg along the Masvingo-Beitbridge Road.National police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said 14 passengers from the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter died on the spot, while two others died on their way to hospital.
Last night, acting Beitbridge district administrator Peter Moyo who chairs the district's Civil Protection Unit said two more accident victims had since died, bringing the death toll to 18.
The accident occurred around 3AM.
Chief Supt Nyathi said the bus was travelling towards Beitbridge with 28 people on board while the Hino truck which was on its way to Masvingo had three occupants.
"Fourteen (14) people from the Mercedes Benz sprinter including the driver died on the spot while another person died on admission at Neshuro Hospital and the other died on the way to Bulawayo," he said.
Chief Supt Nyathi said 11 people were seriously injured in the accident and were all taken to Beitbridge District Hospital.
When the news crew arrived at Beitbridge District hospital, doctors were attending to the injured while two more people were set to be transferred to the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH).
One of the survivors Tavaruva Tavaruva told the news crew from his hospital bed that he was lucky to be alive.
"I was asleep when it all happened and I believe that I survived because I was on the right end of the back seat. I sustained head and neck injuries," he said.
Tavaruva said the bus which was supposed to leave Masvingo at 10PM only left at around 1AM the following day after it developed a mechanical fault.
He said two passengers aborted the journey when the bus developed a mechanical fault and demanded refunds.
Tavaruva said the bus – which had standing passengers – was travelling from Masvingo to Musina in South Africa.
A worker from the nearby Lion and Elephant Motel said he woke up after hearing a loud bang that was followed by wailing.
"We later realised it was an accident. By the time we arrived 14 bodies were being retrieved by passengers of a South Africa-bound Eagle Liner bus which stopped to offer assistance," said Virginia Ndlovu.
"It was scary scene as blood was all over. Some of the dead had severed limbs while others sustained serious head injuries."
Masvingo Provincial Minister of State Cde Kudakwashe Bhasikiti reportedly visited the scene in the morning.
Meanwhile, Chief Supt Nyathi called on motorists to exercise caution on the roads.
"Drivers should rest when they are tired and when travelling at night they should concentrate on movements on the road," he said.
A total of 248 road accidents have been recorded in Beitbridge District between January and June this year. Police say most of these accidents occurred between 6PM and 10pm.
The accidents have been attributed to stray animals, speeding, vehicle defects, bad roads and failure to abide by road regulations on the part of some motorists.
Yesterday's accident happened a few days after Chronicle's Business Editor Mernat Mafirakurewa was killed in a head-on collision with a South Africa bound bus near Beatrice – a mishap that also claimed the life of a passenger on the King Lion bus.