HARARE, Zimbabwe - In a horrific incident in Zimbabwe, a bus travelling in the southern part of the country exploded overnight, leaving more than 42 people dead and at least 20 others seriously injured.
The shocking incident occurred on Thursday night, when the bus was travelling on a highway from the South African border crossing to Zimbabwe's second-largest city, Bulawayo.
According to the local police in Zimbabwe, the bus burst into flames and exploded when it was travelling between the towns of Beitbridge and Gwanda via the town of Filabusi in the southwestern Zimbabwean province of Matabeleland South.
On Friday morning, the police teams gathered at the accident spot in Gwanda district - which is about 550 kms (340 miles) south of the Zimbabwean capital, Harare - told reporters that fire swept through the entire vehicle, leaving it completely incinerated.
The local police said that they pulled the charred remains of passengers from the bus and confirmed that at least 42 people had died in the tragedy.
The Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba confirmed that more than 42 people were killed in the incident and at least 20 had suffered severe burns and were transported to a local hospital in Gwanda town.
She said, "At the moment, we know that more than 42 people died. Our police officers are at the scene."
However, the spokeswoman has refused to officially comment on the cause of the accident.
Officials have indicated that a suspected gas tank leak could be the cause of the incident.
A report in the Zimbabwe State media too stated that the fire may have erupted due to a cooking gas tank exploding within the vehicle.
The report noted that a gas tank or gasoline that triggered the explosion possibly belonged to a passenger.
In a post on its Twitter page, the State-owned Herald newspaper said that "it is suspected a gas tank belonging to one of the passengers caused the inferno in the bus."
The Zimbabwe Red Cross posted images from the accident spot on Twitter on Friday, which showed the charred remains of the vehicle.
The Red Cross confirmed in its tweet that its teams had "responded to the horrific accident" around midnight.
Later on Friday, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said in a report that survivors that were undergoing treatment told reporters that a gas smell engulfed the vehicle late in the night.
They pointed out that it was dark inside the vehicle and the conductor switched on the lights when the bus caught fire.
Second tragedy in less than ten days
Thursday's incident was the second brutal road accident in the country in less than ten days.
On November 9, two speeding long distance buses were involved in a head-on collision on a road between the capital Harare and the eastern town of Rusape.
More than 47 people were killed and 80 others suffered injuries in the tragic accident that occurred on a road that had reportedly been resurfaced only recently.
Riddled with potholes, the roads in Zimbabwe witness several traffic accidents each year.
Often, government officials have blamed the poor conditions of roads on years of underfunding and neglect.
Horrific accidents on the country's roads have also been blamed on bad driving.
Following the accident last week, the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa said that road safety had to be improved in the aftermath of the crash.
Further, the country's Deputy Transport Minister Fortune Chasi had vowed that the government would take steps to curb the road carnage.
He promised to rein in public service vehicles and their owners and said, "Totally needless loss of lives. This event should be the last before stern measures are taken."