Thirteen people died in an accident while 18 others were seriously injured on Monday when a cross border Zupco bus they were travelling in side-swiped with a Mujawo Transport International haulage truck, veered off the road and plunged into a river at the 22kilometre peg of the Harare-Nyamapanda Road.
The Zupco bus was coming from Malawi while the haulage truck was going towards Nyamapanda.
Police spokesman Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said 10 people died on the spot while three others died on admission at Parirenyatwa Hospital.
“The truck driver, Wonder Nyamurambe (42), who was travelling from Harare towards Nyamapanda stopped just after the bridge on realising that there were some clothes dumped in the middle of the road.
“The driver alleges that he stopped his truck thinking that there were people sleeping on the road and then started reversing his vehicle to avoid running over the objects,” he said.
He said the bus which had 43 passengers and moving from the opposite direction sideswiped the truck and as a result, the bus veered off the road and plunged into the river landing on its left side.
The 18 passengers who were seriously injured were taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital.
Eye witnesses who first arrived at the scene said ambulances arrived almost two hours after the accident.
A Harare man, Mr Crispen Benjamin, said efforts to get assistance from the police officers who were at the nearby tollgate were fruitless as the officers said they were on a different assignment.
“We appealed to officers at the toll gate but they said they could not attend. Help came late and many people who were crying for help died in our presence, we were helpless,” he said.
Another eye witness, Mr Edmore Mujeri, said he ferried the injured to Parirenyatwa Hospital.
“It took so long before people got assistance. People volunteered to take the injured to the hospital and I made two trips before ambulances came,” he said.
People at the scene of the accident appealed to Government to avail resources so that in emergence situations like road accidents, people can get assistance on time and avoid unnecessary deaths.
Police have appealed to all drivers to be observant on the road and avoid speeding, especially at night.
Police investigations are continuing.