At least 32 people have been confirmed dead and five others seriously injured when five vehicles got involved in an accident along Fort Portal-Kasese Highway on Tuesday night.
Witnesses say the 9pm accident occurred at Kihogo village along Hima–Rugendabara Road on the section of the highway that is still under re-construction.
The Uganda Red Cross Society Public Relations Officer, Ms Irene Nakasita, said 32 bodies were recovered while five survivors referred to Kilembe Hospital in Kasese District.
“Our emergency response team working with Uganda Police and UPDF led by Major Charles Nzei has managed the incident,” she said in a message released to journalists this (Wednesday) morning.
Mr Alex Aliganyira, an eye witness said that a speeding truck transporting a coffin collided with another car before the drivers of the other cars lost control and rammed into the stationery accident vehicles.
“There was a big truck with a coffin and people on top, while a lorry full of people followed closely behind. When the car with a coffin hit another car, the lorry behind it also rammed into it causing another accident,” he said.
Mr Aliganyira continues that in a short period, other two vehicles came and also rammed into the wreckage of the first accident cars.
Mr Mathias Okwir, the Rwenzori East regional traffic commander, said by publication time that detectives were investigating the actual cause of the accident promising to provide details later.
Bodies of the victims and the injured have been taken to Kilembe Mines Hospital.
The Kihogo village chairman, Mr James Muranga, said the truck was transporting mourners from Bundibugyo en route to Maliba sub-county for burial when the accident occurred.
A driver who was travelling from Mpondwe to Tororo, Mr Martin Katende, blamed the contractor of the Fort Portal–Kasese Road that is under construction for not erecting warning signs on the road especially where heaps of sand and other road materials have been dumped on the roadside.
One of the survivors, Moris Kikwamimbi, told journalists that they were travelling from Bundibugyo district in a canter truck registration number UAU 457F that had about 25 passengers on board heading to Maliba Kemihoko.
As they approached the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) weighbridge at Kihogo cell, the vehicle they were travelling in collided with a speeding Premio car registration number UAU 700 U.
“The canter driver and another mzee died on spot while the other passengers jumped out of the canter and tried to run. However, a lorry owned by Umeme, registration number UBF 968Y, arrived and as they (Umeme people) were still inquiring whether there were people who needed immediate help, two speeding trucks for Hima cement factory registration number UAY 793E and UAY 836Y rammed into other vehicles and some residents who had gathered at the scene,” he said.
Several bodies were loaded onto police vehicles and taken to Kasese Municipal Health Centre 3 mortuary.
A police officer attached to the forensic department at Hima Police Division told journalists that the number of the deceased persons could rise as some of the injured victims were in critical condition.