5 die in horror explosion

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HARARE – A deadly and mysterious explosion yesterday ripped apart four houses and killed five people in the sprawling town of Chitungwiza, leaving residents shell-shocked.

Soldiers from the army bomb disposal unit combed what remained of the four houses reduced to rubble with no leads or success at the time of going to print.

“There is not much I can say. Nobody knows what happened and we are still looking around,” an engineer with the military unit told the Daily News.

St Mary’s police head Daniel Badza confirmed the deaths, adding that he can only comment or give details after a full investigation.

“So far there are four deceased adults and a child about a year old. We are not ruling anything out but it is difficult to say it is a bomb or gas because there is no fire here or as of now any trace of explosive material,” Badza said.

Police were overwhelmed by the traumatic event that is a first of its kind in a town famous for disease outbreaks and water shortages.

Body parts were strewn all over with soldiers and police officers picking pieces from roof tops, mango trees and as far as 50 metres from the scene.

A repulsive stench pervaded the area but this did not keep away stunned residents who were trying to find answers to the deadly blast.

Charity Charamba, national police spokesperson, confirmed the tragedy but could not point to the cause saying it is complicated.

Residents had their own theories.

“One of the dead is a traditional healer while the other three are believed to be his clients, two of whom are husband and wife who run a commuter ominibus business in St Mary’s,” said Edmore Mikitayo, a resident and neighbour.

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Eyewitnesses said the blast that ripped apart House number 4 Ndororo Street in Chitungwiza’s Zengeza 2 suburb was owned by a traditional healer.

Some witnesses claimed the blast was caused by lightning.

Business came to a standstill as more than 500 people blocked the road trying to catch a glimpse into the horror show.

So powerful was the blast that windows within a 100-metre radius were left in smithereens.

With experts ruling out a gas or bomb explosion, one theory that has gained traction is that the blast, which ripped apart the house of a traditional healer, was caused by black magic.

Blasts or explosions of such magnitude are rare in Zimbabwe, but in a country that deeply believes in the powers of the supernatural, some traditional doctors are said to have the power to concoct lightning and set it on their rivals.

In Chitungwiza, residents were agreed that the explosion that shook the neighbourhood like an earthquake was a result of such black magic.

Collin Gwiyo MP for Zengeza West, who was also milling with a stunned mob, said the blast is related to black magic.

“There were people who were involved in black magic and then there was an explosion which was like a bomb but it is all linked to the traditional healer,” said Gwiyo.

Witnesses say at 3:20pm the usually tranquil suburb of Zengeza 2 was jolted by a blast that saw passersby scurring for cover.

Modziriwa Makumbe, whose home is about 50 metres from the centre of the blast, was in shock when she spoke to the Daily News.

“I heard a loud blast and my house shook as bulbs fell. The television also went off and windows broke. I have never seen anything shocking as this,” said Makumbe.

Another witness who stays along Ndororo Street, a few houses from the blast scene, said they had felt vibrations like those that are triggered by an earthquake before they rushed to help people who were trapped by fallen walls.

“We were outside and we heard vibrations and we rushed to the house where the blast had come from. We managed to rescue three people who were in a car. I could not go inside because I was so scared of what I was seeing from the outside,” said another witness. – Richard Chidza, Xolisani Ncube and Fungi Kwaramba

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