At least 32 people have been confirmed dead and five others seriously injured after a grisly accident involving five vehicles along Fort Portal-Kasese highway in the western Ugandan district of Kasese on Tuesday night.
The 9pm accident occurred at Kihogo along Hima–Rugendabara road, according to eyewitness accounts. I occurred when a truck carrying a coffin and passengers going for a burial collided with a car along the section of the highway that is still under re-construction.
Tragically, drivers of other cars, unaware that there was an accident ahead, also lost control and rammed into the stationery accident vehicles.
Ms Irene Nakasita, the Uganda Red Cross Society Public Relations Officer, said 32 bodies were recovered and five survivors referred to Kilembe Hospital in Kasese District in western Uganda.
“Our emergency response team working with Uganda Police and UPDF led by Major Charles Nzei has managed the incident,” she added in a message released to journalists on Wednesday morning.
“There was a big truck with a coffin and people on top, while a lorry full of people followed closely behind. When the car with a coffin hit another car, the lorry behind it also rammed into it causing another accident,” said Mr Alex Aliganyira, an eye witness.
He added, in a short interval, two other vehicles came and also rammed into the wreckage of the first accident.
By press time, Rwenzori East regional traffic commander, Mr Mathius Okwir said detectives were investigating the actual cause of the accident and would provide details later.
Bodies of the victims and the injured have been taken to Kilembe Mines Hospital.
Mr Martin Katende, a driver who was travelling from Mpondwe to Tororo, blamed the contractor of Fort Portal–Kasese road that is under construction for not putting warning signs on the road especially where heaps of sand and other road materials have been dumped on the roadside.
One of the survivors, Moris Kikwamimbi, told this reporter that they were travelling from Bundibugyo District in a canter registration number UAU 457F that had about 25 passengers on board heading to Maliba Kemihoko. As they approached UNRA weighbridge at Kihogo cell, they collided with a speeding Premio registration number UAU 700 U.
“The canter driver and another mzee died on spot while the other passengers jumped out of the canter and tried to run. However, a lorry owned by Umeme, registration number UBF 968Y, arrived and as they (Umeme people) were still inquiring whether there were people who needed immediate help, two speeding trucks for Hima cement factory registration number UAY 793E and UAY 836Y rammed into other vehicles and some residents who had gathered at the scene,” he said.
The reporter saw several bodies being loaded onto police vehicles and transferred to Kasese Municipal Health Centre III mortuary.
A police officer attached to the Forensic department at Hima Police Division told journalists that the number of the deceased persons could rise as some of the injured victims were in critical condition.