Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) spokesperson Charity Charamba. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ AFP/ JEKESAI NJIKIZANA
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) spokesperson Charity Charamba. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ AFP/ JEKESAI NJIKIZANA

Harare — At least 42 passengers have been confirmed dead, Zimbabwe police said Friday, after a suspected gas cylinder explosion on a bus.

"At the moment we know that more than 42 people died," police spokesperson Charity Charamba said after the accident late on Thursday, with state media reporting a gas tank belonging to a passenger was believed to have exploded.

"Our police officers are at the scene," Charamba added.

The state-owned Herald newspaper said on its Twitter feed that “it is suspected a gas tank belonging to one of the passengers caused the inferno in the bus. Dozens have been confirmed dead and several others injured through burns.”

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation published photographs showing the destroyed vehicle on a highway from the South African border crossing to Bulawayo.

Last week, 47 people were killed when two buses collided on a road between the Harare and Rusape. After that, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said that road safety needed to be improved.

Traffic accidents are common in Zimbabwe, where roads are riddled with potholes due to years of underfunding and neglect, and driving standards can be poor.

In June 2017, 43 people were killed in a bus crash in the north, along the highway leading to neighbouring Zambia.

AFP