HEAVY hydraulic equipment was summoned to break the locomotive wreckage and retrieve the body of the driver of a freight train that had derailed and trapped him to death at Tsungwesi in Nyazura on Tuesday afternoon.
The locomotive driver, Mr Collet Gwini, was trapped for almost 18 hours after the accident while the other three crew members were rescued and rushed to Rusape General Hospital for treatment.
The accident extensively damaged about 200 metres of the rail track and rendered the Beira Corridor inaccessible.
The chrome-laden goods train, which had 22 wagons, was coming from Harare and heading towards Beira, Mozambique.
Two red DE6 engines leased from Sheltam, South Africa, were a total write-off, while 19 recently commissioned wagons were extensively damaged.
The fine chrome dust was spilled all over the scene, while broken wheels, axels and other metal objects littered the area.
The Manica Post understands that fire fighters from Mutare City Council spent the whole evening trying to cut the wreckage and retrieve Mr Gwini’s body without success.
This prompted the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) to summon specialised equipment to get the job done.
Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Luxson Chananda said the goods train derailed around 1pm.
The accident revoked memories of the year 2008 when another locomotive crashed and caused casualties, damaged infrastructure and disrupted services.
“The goods train had four crew members — Kudakwashe Bande (48), a security guard; technicians Humphrey Dingani and one Dingaan as well as the late driver, Gwini.
“Bande, Dingani and Dingaan were rescued and rushed to Rusape General Hospital,” said Inspector Chananda.
Efforts to get a comment from NRZ spokesperson, Mr Nyasha Maravanyika, were fruitless as his mobile number was repeatedly unavailable.
Acting NRZ general manager, Mrs Respina Zinyanduko, who together with some board members and eastern area managers visited the injured at Rusape General Hospital on Tuesday evening was also not readily available for comment.
Dingani and Dingaan, believed to be South Africans, were transferred to Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals for specialised treatment.
It is suspected that the goods train had a braking fault on the steep Tikwiri slope and failed to stop at Nyazura for time movement booking.