Sunday, 16 September 2018

GMB DEPOT EXPLOSION : SURVIVORS RECOUNT HORROR


SURVIVORS of the explosion that killed six people at Grain Marketing Board’s (GMB) Lion’s Den depot have recounted how the victims met their horrific deaths three weeks ago.

Burials that were delayed by three weeks as the authorities scrambled to identify the victims were finally conducted last Friday and a dark cloud enveloped the Murereka community.

The sixth body was discovered four days after the blast as it was buried under the rubble. Some workers who attended the funerals said the blast left them with many questions.

“There is a possibility that it was a bomb explosion,” said one of the workers on condition of anonymity. The explosion happened at the entrance, trapping in some people in the dark after power went off.”

He said the explosion happened inside the silos and some of the victims who were inside were burnt beyond recognition. One of his friends was sliced by a conveyor belt.

“The explosion ripped open about five tonnes of concrete and I doubt an electrical fault can cause such damage,” he added.

“There are also claims that gases used to treat the maize grain could have caused the blast. It was a huge blast that was felt 5km away.”

Houses located about 5km from the GMB depot were damaged by the blast.

Another employee said they heard a loud bang just after midday as they were cleaning the GMB premises in preparation for a visit by Lands minister Perrance Shiri later that day.

“The whole place vibrated and we heard some voices from the silos crying for help,” he said.

Two of the victims had just been assigned duties to clean the premises, replacing two that were summarily dismissed a few minutes earlier for fighting over a sweeping broom.

The employee said when a helicopter arrived two hours later everyone thought it was the Air Force on a rescue mission, only for Shiri to emerge.

He claimed that as Shiri addressed the workers, they could hear people trapped in the silos crying out for help.

Rescue teams from far-away Ngezi and Chinhoyi arrived hours later.

The workers claimed on the day of the disaster they were forced to spend the night at the depot amid claims of a plot to hide the alleged theft of grain.

“We believe that has been done by a cartel linked to top people and we suspect there was a bomb planted to destroy evidence of the plunder,” said one of the workers.

They claimed that nepotism was rife at the depot. Two of the victims, including another one still battling for his life in hospital, are from the same family.

Obert Zhoya, the GMB Lion’s Den depot manager, refused to comment on the blast and the allegations of nepotism.

Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who attended the burial, said investigations were still underway to establish the cause of the blast.

Tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira told mourners that there was urgent need to implement safety measures at GMB depots to avoid unnecessary deaths. Standard

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