Ten people died on the spot when a bus collided with a truck near Sultan Hamud on the Nairobi-Mombasa highway.
The truck burst into flames on impact while the bus was extensively damaged during the Saturday night crash.
Among those who died on the spot were two people who were burnt after they were trapped inside the truck’s cabin. Three others died at the Sultan Hamud Hospital where they were being treated.
Truck drivers and loaders buried their two colleagues by the side of the road in a short and sombre ceremony.
Witnesses said a police van and a St John’s ambulance arrived at the crash scene after about 15 minutes.
Twenty two people were treated and discharged at the Sultan Hamud Hospital, while nine others, among them a child, were referred to Makindu Level Five Hospital.
There were conflicting reports about what caused the accident, with the owners of the truck blaming the bus driver for trying to overtake while survivors in the bus accused the driver of the truck of driving at a high speed in the middle of the road with full lights on.
A survivor, Mr Mwanza Wambua, who worked as a loader on the bus, said he saw the truck, which was ferrying clinker from Mombasa to Nairobi, driving in the middle of the road and the driver appeared not be in control of the vehicle.
“The (bus) driver was told by the conductor, who was seating next to him, to swerve to the bush off the tarmac, as it appeared the driver of the truck would not give way, and in a matter of seconds there was a loud bang,” Mr Wambua said. He sustained facial and leg injuries and was part of the group that was treated and discharged but the Nation team found him at the Sultan Hamud Police Station where the wreckage of the bus had been towed to.
The bus belonging to Ladha Coach Bus Company was heading to Mombasa from Kitui when the accident occurred. The truck was ferrying clinker, which is used in the manufacture of cement.
By evening, the truck, which had been reduced to a shell, was still partially blocking part of the busy highway as workers offloaded the clinker onto another truck for onward transportation to Nairobi.
Witnesses said they were unable to rescue the three people in the truck because the cabin caught fire. The injured driver and loader died while screaming for help but nothing could be done to save their lives.
“When I arrived there were flames in the cabin of the truck which had overturned on the side of the highway and there were two people inside screaming to be rescued. There was soon a huge explosion and the whole truck was on fire,” said Lucas Musau, who was among the first to arrive at the scene.
Another witness, Ms Mary Mwikali said she heard an explosion and on coming out of her house to check what was happening, saw a truck under a huge ball of flame.
“People started running away with their children thinking it was an oil tanker on fire,” she said.