Government has set up a team of 40 experts to assist in the identification of victims of the Northern By-pass accident.
At least 31 people are confirmed dead and 29 others being treated for severe burns at Mulago Hospital after a Saturday night accident near Namungona resulted into fire. The fire started after a Toyota Noah registration number UAS 374C rammed into the rear of a fuel tanker registration number KBL 361B causing damage on the tanker leading to fuel spillage. The accident attracted boda boda cyclists who rushed to get fuel.
According to Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, who addressed a press conference at CPS in Kampala today, the evaporation from the fuel led to accumulation of flammabe vapour leading to fire. Kaweesi says the police responded at 9:58pm, some 28 minutes after the fire had started. In total they dispatched 8 fire fighting vehicles and they were able to save another fuel tanker with 50,000 litres of fuel. And from the one that got burnt, Kaweesi says they were able to save 30,000 litres.
Kaweesi people warned against what called dangerous fortune-picking habits that could lead to loss of life.
Most of the dead are boda boda cyclists.
Relatives and friends gathered at Mulago Hospital Mortuary hoping to identify bodies of the victims of the accident.
According to Dr Moses Byaruhanga, the Medical Director Uganda Police Force, the experts comprise pathologists, scene of crime experts and mortuary attendants. Dr Byaruhanga says the experts will be divided into three groups headed by Andrew Mubiru from the Government Analytical Laboratory, the second one by Dr Byaruhanga himself, while Dr Sam Kalungi, a senior pathologist will head the third group.
The teams will help relatives identify bodies of the accident victims and take blood samples from those that are burnt beyond recognition. The samples will be used to identify them.
Police had earlier confirmed at least 27 people dead in the accident which occurred on Saturday night, when a fuel tanker collided head-on with another vehicle before overturning and catching fire. But the number has since risen to 31 after four more people were confirmed dead at Mulago.
Hashim Kasinga, the Officer in Charge Mulago Police Post, says 31 bodies are currently in the mortuary, while 29 severely burnt survivors are admitted in Ward 3B of the hospital.
Some of the dead include Sylvia Nakanjako, wife to Abdul Kamoga from Ganda in Nansana. Nakanjako, a mother of four, was selling roasted maize and plantain at the time of the accident. Others are Alex Muluya and John Ntale, both boda boda cyclists at Lubigi state along Northern By-pass. Samson Ndugga, a turn-boy of a fuel tanker and a resident of Kibumbiro in Busega, Fred Kasozi, a builder from Najjera and Emmanuel Mwanje, a boda boda cyclist from Namungona are also dead.
The other victims are Magala and Katamba, brothers who hail from Namungona, and Herbert Byamukama, a resident of Nabweru Sub County.
According to Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson Ibin Senkumbi 27 bodies were pulled from the accident scene near the Hoima Road Round-about after the accident which occurred at about 10pm on Saturday. The police spokesperson however says it is hard to establish the actual number of injuries since those with minor injuries ran away from the scene.
Senkumbi suspects the fire to have been started by one of the boda boda cyclists who had rushed to siphon fuel from the tanker after it had overturned following a head-on collision with a Toyota Ipsum. The cyclist, according to Senkumbi, was trying to get away after siphoning fuel but when he started his engine it started the fire.
Shortly after the accident, State House issued a statement from President Yoweri Museveni, who was in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania participating in the Smart Partnership International Dialogue. In the statement, the president said he had learnt with great shock of the tragedy “in which vehicles have been burnt by a fuel tanker at Namungona causing loss of lives.” The statement added that the president was closely monitoring efforts of the “Police and Health workers at the scene.”