"I thought it was an earthquake," says neighbor
Two buildings housing families of police officers in Arusha have been destroyed when a huge tree fell on the structures located along Police-Line in Kaloleni section of the City, early on Sunday, May 22.
The Arusha Regional Police Commander, Mr Charles Mkumbo has confirmed the incident, saying the incident claimed no life, but there were a number of people that got injured during the incident. Apart from crashing residential police quarters, the tree also flattened some private cars.
"This area is full of very old trees and I am thinking of asking for permits so that we can remove some of them in order to avert similar disasters in future," said the Regional Police Commander.
It is estimated that some of the trees are over 100 years old.
One of the victims, Mrs Edines Bigola said the accident occurred at about 3.00 am on Sunday and that the tree fell right onto their beds while sleeping, in those early dark hours but had to wait several hours later for the neighbours to come to their rescue.
"There was my husband and I but also a baby sleeping on the bed," said the lady, explaining that it was a rather tasking duty to have the logs sawed off in order for them to be pulled out of the debris. They were later rushed to hospital for check-up and later on discharged.
One of the neighbours, Mr Issa Hassan said they had suspected that the huge tree had of late been leaning dangerously and that the branches had already been causing electric sparks as they touched the power cables; "We phoned that Tanzania Electricity Supply Company (TANESCO) on Saturday but they never came to check," he said.
Another resident, Ms Rose Mtui, recalled that when they heard the loud shaking bang that night they thought it was an earthquake: "some even thought it was a power transformer exploding, but getting out we realized to our horror that the tree had crashed onto a house," she said.
Ms Mtui said it was fortunate that the incident occurred during the night because; "Usually children like to play under the tree as it provided shade, adults would also sit under the tree during hot days. They could have been easily crushed," she added.
The TANESCO engineer, Donasiano Shamba, while failing to explain why they did not take precautions when the residents called, admitted that, the tree fell onto and destroyed the high tension cables rendering the entire central parts of the city powerless.
Many houses within Arusha city are in impending danger of being crushed by crumbling old trees towering over power lines. Residents are on a dilemma because they cannot trim the trees due to the power lines under them, and TANESCO would not do the job unless an accident has occurred.