4 family members' deaths 'needless'

HARARE - Four family members who died in a well on a mission to drain water using a submersible pump, needlessly lost their lives, a residents group has said.

Cleopas Jokomera and his three sons, Cleopas Jr, Macliff and Tom died in Budiriro 4 from inhaling carbon monoxide as they were using a submersible pump inside the 15-metre deep well.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (Chra) said the loss of lives under horrifying circumstances was unnecessary.

“The Budiriro incident is one of the many cases of needless loss of life arising out of the failure by the Harare City Council (HCC) to offer effective service delivery such as clean, safe and potable water,” Chra said in a statement yesterday.

“As a result of the failure by the council to provide safe water in residential areas, residents have resorted to digging wells and many cases of residents, especially children, dying in these wells have been recorded.

“On top of this, some of these wells are unprotected or are dug near toilets and this has exposed residents to diseases such as cholera and typhoid.”

This comes as two children are reported to have lost their lives with total suspected typhoid cases of 604, and the outbreak spreading beyond Mbare — the disease’s epicentre — to adjacent suburbs such as Budiriro and Glen View, where many have been sickened by contaminated water and food.

The Budiriro family members died in rapid succession while trying to rescue each other, according to police spokesperson Charity Charamba.

Once at the bottom of the new and dry concrete well, one after the other, they fell into a coma because of a lack of oxygen.

Panicked residents rushed to phone emergency services. A joint operation by the Sub-Aqua Unit and the Fire Brigade retrieved the bodies from the well. Humans can lapse into a coma and die within 40 seconds if they are in an environment with low oxygen levels.

There was confusion in terms of communications, chaos, and possible misinterpretation of the available information until command and control was established.

The deaths have been stressful for the deceased’s mother, resulting in her building up emotional pressure and anxiety.

Chra said the deaths highlighted the need to have an extra level of safety when digging wells and the HCC’s failure to provide safe drinking water. The residents group said the local authority must be held accountable for the deaths.

Council spokesperson Michael Chideme said they were still waiting for findings of the police probe.

Comments (1)

a few years ago this happened in Mashava/ a father and son died as well as a worker when they went to try fix a pump underground at a small mine they were operating. carbon monoxide inhalation as well. People are not well versed with dangers associated with this and working in confined spaces. you need a life support when you go down there. an oxygen tank and rescue rope so that pple can pull you out without having to go in and lose more lives.

so sad - 16 February 2017

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