Nkasi district commissioner Said Mtanda confirmed yesterday that the accident occurred at about 3 pm and was caused by the driver of the Fuso truck hitting a rock on the road, causing it to upend. The vehicle was heading to Wampembe village in the district, coming from the regional capital Sumbawanga.
According to DC Mtanda, 12 people died on the spot and three others passed away later at the Rukwa regional referral hospital where they had been taken for treatment.
He said the accident may have happened because the driver was not familiar with the particular road and may have found it difficult to navigate safely, as more experienced drivers do despite the rough terrain.
The driver is said to have taken to his heels after the fatal crash, and is now the target of a police manhunt mounted in the region.The bodies of the diseased victims are being preserved at the Mvimwa health centre awaiting further instructions, according to DC Mtanda.
“We have secured a vehicle from the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) to transport the bodies to their burial places,” the DC added, while calling on wananchi to visit the health centre and help identify the bodies.
He also said the government will incur all costs of transportation of each body to its respective final resting place.President John Magufuli yesterday sent a message of condolences to Rukwa regional commissioner Zelotte Steven in the aftermath of the tragic accident.
“I understand this is a difficult period for families of the deceased...they lost loved ones and important people in their lives. I condole with them and join them in prayers so that the souls of the departed may rest in peace,” the president was quoted in a statement released yesterday by State House in Dar es Salaam.
Serious road accidents, mostly caused by reckless driving, appear to have been on the increase across the country in recent times. In mid-September, at least 16 Tanzanians - many of them members of the family of a former Tanzanian deputy minister – died in a grisly head-on collision involving a minibus and a cargo truck in western Uganda.
Earlier this year, at least 29 schoolchildren were killed in a bus crash in rainy conditions near Karatu in Arusha Region. Two teachers and the vehicle’s driver also died.