Twenty passengers escaped with injuries on Saturday night when a Harare-bound passenger train derailed at Heany Junction 30 kilometres from Bulawayo.
Eight coaches at the back of the train which had 11 coaches derailed and fell on the side. Twenty-two passengers on the train that had 120 people, were injured and rushed to United Bulawayo Hospitals where one of them is reported to be in a serious condition. Some were treated and discharged.
National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) director of operations Dennis Nyoni and acting director, technical services Thomas Kurebwaseka were at the scene yesterday leading work on the repair of the damaged line.
The two officials confirmed that the train derailed soon after it had left Heany Junction around 9PM.
One of the survivors, who is admitted at United Bulawayo Hospitals, Vanencia Mapurisa, 36, sustained injuries on the head, back and leg.
Speaking from her hospital bed yesterday Mapurisa said she was on her way to the capital to start a new job as a domestic worker today.
“I still don’t understand what happened. I woke up as I was thrown off my seat. I was confused and in shock. I just crawled about trying to find my way out and couldn’t,” she said.
She said other passengers helped her out where she found more injured people.
Mapurisa who looked in pain and spoke in a soft voice said the doctors said she had lost a lot of blood.“I came in with another woman but I haven’t seen her. I also saw one pregnant woman faint after I was helped out of the train,” she said.
The derailed coaches were still lying by their side yesterday.
Officials said they suspected the track or the wagon wheels might have caused the accident.
Jane Moyo, a villager who stays near the where the accident happened said she was still in shock.
“My niece was supposed to be on that train. So when I heard a funny scratching sound I knew that something was wrong,” she said.
Moyo said she rushed to the scene and saw that about eight coaches had derailed and saw passengers scrambling out of the train through windows.
“Only children were crying while the other passengers were helping each other out through the windows. I was worried for my niece. I just kept moving around calling out her name and asking people if they had seen her,” she said.
She said she then started helping other passengers out as there were fears that the train could catch fire.
Nyoni said they were working on repairing the railway line and estimated that normal service would start by midnight last night.
“We have superficial damage to the track. We will be done with that in about two hours. By midnight if everything goes according to plan normal services would be restored,” he said.
He, however, declined to comment further referring questions to NRZ public relations manager Fanuel Masikati whose cellphone rang unanswered.
NRZ is reported to have hired buses to ferry 96 passengers to Harare while 15 passengers declined to continue with the journey and returned to their homes.
The accident comes about a month after a tram collided with a train in Victoria Falls.