7-ton truck swept away: 2 feared dead, 9 rescued in flooded river

Villagers join in the search for two people who went missing after a truck they were travelling in was swept away by the flooded Bubi River yesterday

Villagers join in the search for two people who went missing after a truck they were travelling in was swept away by the flooded Bubi River yesterday

Leonard Ncube and Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporters
TWO people, one of them a teacher, are feared dead while nine others narrowly escaped death when a truck they were travelling in was swept away by a flooded river in Lupane District.

The incident happened at the Bubi River Bridge at about 6PM on Thursday .

The bridge is on a gravel road linking Daluka Ward 19 to St Luke’s area in Kusile Rural District.

The driver of the truck, a seven-tonner, which was coming from delivering food aid, allegedly missed the bridge and hit side pillars before the truck fell into the river.

The teacher, who could not be named immediately, was reportedly stationed at Zwangendaba Secondary – a few hundred metres from the scene of the accident.

The other victim is believed to be a local villager.

By last night, the two people were still missing but the nine other passengers and crew were all accounted for.

The truck was dumped by the water about 60 metres downstream.

The truck’s crew comprising of three people including the driver, were coming from delivering drought relief food in Daluka in the same district when they offered eight local people a lift.

The Chronicle visited the area yesterday and Bubi River was still flooded with villagers and school children failing to cross.

Villagers from either side of the river embarked on a search in the river while waiting for divers from the police Sub-Aqua Unit who arrived late in the afternoon.

Some villagers reportedly assisted a heavily pregnant woman cross the river to St Luke’s Hospital where she was due for delivery.

Acting District Administrator for Lupane, Mr Zachariah Jusa, who is also chairman of the local Civil Protection Unit, confirmed the incident.

“The accident occurred at around 6PM when the truck, which is part of those that carry drought relief food in the district, was returning to base. I was at the bridge in the morning when the truck crossed as I was doing routine checks to assess the situation. Unfortunately when they returned in the evening, I think the water level had risen as the bridge was submerged,” he said.

Mr Jusa said the driver missed the bridge after hitting a hump.

“I think the driver could have gauged that his truck would cross but hit a hump which caused the truck to swerve. That’s when he missed the bridge and the truck fell into the water throwing out the eight people who were in the back and the three crew members in front,” he said.

“I think it’s prudent that people don’t spread falsehoods as what has been circulating on social media that the bridge was swept away isn’t true.”

Yesterday, the river was still flooded and villagers said it was worse than the previous night.

Bubi-Lupane Dam downstream near Lupane Centre was also said to be full, contributing to the flooding in the area.

One of the survivors who was in the truck, Mr Bongani Moyo, said he was still in shock.

“It was so sudden. All was well as the driver tried to drive through but lost control when he hit a hump and that’s when we heard the truck hitting some pillars,” he said.

Matabeleland North Provincial Education Director Mrs Boithatelo Mnguni confirmed that a teacher was among those involved in the accident.

“The teacher taught at Zwangendaba High School in Lupane. I can’t give more details because the CPU and the police are dealing with the matter,” said Mrs Mnguni.

CPU acting director Mrs Sibusisiwe Ndlovu also confirmed the incident, saying they informed the police sub-aqua unit in Bulawayo after receiving the report.

“We received a report from Matabeleland North Province and we communicated with the sub-aqua unit in Bulawayo to attend to the incident,” said Mrs Ndlovu.

She warned people against attempting to cross flooded rivers.

A number of people have been rescued after being marooned in Matabeleland South and the Midlands provinces.

— @pamelashumba1 , @ncubeleon

Article Source: The Chronicle