2 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Another Blast Claims Three

THREE people were killed, while one was injured yesterday when a pressurised tobacco curing boiler tank they were working on exploded at Hwata Farm in Mt Hampden. The deceased were males employed at the farm owned by Mr Phineas Hwata of Lot M Homefield Road.

The injured was rushed to hospital.

The boiler was reported to have been installed by farm hands on Thursday.

Workers at the scene said the boiler had no gauge to monitor pressure rise and fluctuations.

A witness, who only identified himself as Mr Timeya, said he received a call that his son Obert had been involved in an explosion at the farm and was seriously injured.

He rushed over thinking that his son had died when he saw the covered bodies.

"Debris was strewn all over the place and I could not understand anything at the time.

"I could see blown up pieces of human flesh all over the site and was overwhelmed to the point that I felt like I would collapse," he said.

Mr Timeya said he was relieved to discover that his son had been taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital.

He expressed sorrow for familes that had lost their loved ones.

Mrs Ednah Meki said one of the deceased had recently been employed at the farm.

She said the man had not even received his first salary.

"This is a disaster. How could the farm owner fail to get professionals to install this boiler?" she said between sobs.

One of the deceased's father, who refused to be identified, said his son had left behind a wife and two chidren. The tank had been installed for experimental purposes.

Mr Hwata said tragedy struck after he had left to attend to a sick employee.

"I had just seen them and asked them to lower the pressure. I went to attend to an ailing employee when I suddenly heard a loud noise that sounded like an explosion. I came to investigate and discovered this horrific scene."

Human flesh could be seen all over the accident scene with some splattered on the walls including an arm and a foot that was trapped underneath a collapsed wall.

The bodies were flung a distance of up to 30 metres from the scene of the explosion.

The boiler tank rocketed, landing a few metres further.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Andrew Phiri confirmed the incident.

He said police were investigating the cause of the explosion.

The deceased will only be named after their families have been notified.

A Guruve man died in a similar accident in Guruve in 2007 after an improvised boiler he was using to cure his tobacco in a barn exploded, spilling the boiling water all over him.

Artwell Nhamoyebonde (67) of Nhamoyebonde Village under Chief Chipuriro in Guruve, died on the spot as a result of severe burns he sustained.

The latest explosion comes barely a fortnight after a suspected explosive killed five people in Chitungwiza.

Police suspect that the four men who were killed in Chitungwiza had tampered with an explosive device while trying to extract mercury.

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