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National

Nation in grief

As 21 die in Ntcheu car accident

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Lazarus Chakwera

President Lazarus Chakwera has declared two days of national mourning after 21 people died and eight others sustained injuries in a road accident that occurred in the early hours of Sunday at Lizulu in Ntcheu District.

Speaking at Kamuzu International Airport, on return from the United Kingdom where he attended the Global Education Summit, Chakwera said the road carnage was shocking.

“I would like to ask Malawians to observe two days of mourning because, hearing from the Vice President [Saulos Chilima], it may take us about two days to repatriate the bodies because, I understand, mortuaries in Ntcheu and Dedza were overwhelmed and other bodies had to be referred to Lilongwe,” he said.

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Chakwera said the 18 women and three children that had been lost to the accident could have contributed to the development of the country.

Earlier, Chilima told Chakwera that the government had assisted bereaved families by, among other things, buying coffins and providing money for funeral-related use.

Chilima added that Capital Hill was making the necessary arrangements to take the bodies to their respective villages for burial.

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The government, through Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) Public Relations Officer Chipiliro Khamula, has, so far, provided 21 coffins to the bereaved families, means of transport and K100,000 to each family as support towards funeral arrangements.

“The department will also provide funds to cover medical expenses for the injured,” he said.

Ntcheu Police Station spokesperson Hastings Chigalu identified the driver of the Toyota Coaster which was coming from the direction of Dedza heading to Ntcheu as 36-year-old Edoh Mbewe from Chiimire Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Nsomba, in Blantyre.

“There were 28 passengers on board. Upon arrival at a place near Bomba Filling Station, the Toyota Coaster was hit from behind by a Freightliner truck, registration number LA 5591/ LA 5548, that was being driven by Alfred Kennedy, 57, of Mbozi Village, T/A Kasumbu, in Dedza.

“Following the impact, the Toyota Coaster went on to hit another vehicle that was in front and, then, overturned to the extreme offside,” he said.

Chigalu said the Freightliner went in the same direction as the overturned Coaster, resting on top of it.

Passengers in the passenger service vehicle were returning to Chikwawa District after an exchange visit with another women’s group in Chindoole Village within the Mlanda area in Ntcheu District.

One of the survivors, Gertrude Zuze, said the truck which hit the Coaster from the back took them by surprise.

“The truck, which was speeding, hit our Coaster, which overturned three times,” she said.

Ntcheu District has, from January to June this year, registered 90 road accidents, 38 of which resulted in loss of 47 lives, with 79 people sustaining injuries.

Comparatively, during the same period in 2020, there were 32 fatalities and 40 injuries registered. In 44 road accidents last year, 25 were fatal.

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