People of Kapanila Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Zulu in Mchinji were in shock yesterday as they buried 11 of the 12 people killed in a road accident on Tuesday night.
Eight men and four women died in an accident which government has declared a national disaster.
The government also bought coffins as well as met expenses.
The burial in a single graveyard was done because the 11 deceased came from adjacent villages of Kapanila, Kaphande and Zulu in T/A Zulu.
It was only the body of the driver of the two-tonne lorry involved in a head-on collision with a Freightliner truck on the Mchinji-Lilongwe Road near Guilleme, close to the boma, that was buried at Mpangeni Village in T/A Mlonyeni’s area.
A stunned Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi said government felt duty-bound to provide assistance to bereaved families.
He said: “This is a tragedy. Imagine 13 members of a family dying at once… We have instructed the DC [district commissioner] to get the necessary details and government will buy all the coffins and make sure that the welfare of those in critical conditions will be taken care of. We will also foot some funeral expenses.”
Mchinji Police Station officer-in-charge Maxmas Thomson Bakali expressed shock at the accident.
He said five survivors were transferred to Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe after sustaining head injuries, ruptured visceral arteries, hip dislocations and open fractures.
One of the five referred to KCH died later yesterday.
But Bakali said the deaths could have been avoided if road safety regulations were adhered to.
He said: “It is not allowed to carry people in an open lorry. It [a lorry] is a goods vehicle. Drivers and passengers should know their responsibility. It is sad that we continue losing lives. We still see people resisting [these rules]. We should avoid this.”
Witnesses said the family members from adjacent villages travelled to Namitete in Lilongwe to attend a funeral of a relation on Tuesday and were on their way back when they mate their fate.
The accident happened at Chikhutu, near Guillime, when the lorry swerved to the other lane to avoid hitting a cyclist.
By yesterday afternoon, 12 survivors of the accident were being treated at Mchinji District Hospital.
Governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regional governor (Centre) Bintony Kutsaira and leader of opposition in Parliament and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera attended the burial.
MCP spokesperson the Reverend Maurice Munthali, in a statement yesterday, said the opposition party was “deeply saddened by the loss of so many lives”.
He said: “Our prayers and thoughts are with all the affected families during this agonising moment. May the souls of the departed rest in eternal peace.”
The accident came barely two days after a DPP vehicle overturned in Kasungu and killed two passengers, including a Ministry of Information and Communications Technology technician who was operating a public address system at a political rally.