A couple and their three children died on Wednesday night in Eyestone, part of the Retreat area in southern Harare, when a gas tank believed to be faulty exploded in their two-roomed house.
The gas tank went through the roof and landed 50 metres away.
The explosion and the resulting fire near the door that trapped the family in the house occurred at around 8.30pm, killing the father Kudzai Gozhora (32), his wife Shupikai Makwara (30) and their three daughters, Valentine (11), Monalisa (seven) and Trumpfree (13 months).
Neighbours said Mr Gozhora sold gas to people in and around the area.
The cause of the explosion is yet to be ascertained with witnesses only able to say what had happened although one reported that Mr Gozhora had told his wife that the tank had developed a fault and some neighbours thought the large tank had only recently been filled.
The family was in one of the rooms when the 48kg gas tank, which was near the door, exploded.
They fled to the bedroom since they could not get out of the house, while the tank exploded and was hurled through the roof, landing about 50m away.
Some neighbours tried to extinguish the fire, but failed. The neighbours said the fire only lasted for about 30 minutes, but by then the family had already died.
National police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, said investigations were still in progress.
Yesterday, several people could be seen milling around the gutted two-roomed cottage. A team of detectives from the CID Forensic Unit and Crime Scene were going through the debris. The bodies were taken for post-mortem.
A neighbour, Mr Wilson Toungana said when the blast occurred everyone in the area was indoors since it was windy.
“My wife was the last person to purchase gas at their house. The man (Gozhora) had told my wife last night while filling our gas tank that his 48kg gas tank had developed a fault.
“However, when my wife left their place that is when she heard a gas explosion and saw fire coming out of their house before calling for help,” he said.
Mr Toungana said when they arrived at the scene, they saw the couple trying to push one of the children to safety through a small window.
“When I arrived at their house I could hear children crying for help and it was sad since we failed to assist them,” he said.
Another neighbour, Mr Torevei Bvunzawabaya said he was inside his own house when he suddenly heard a loud explosion and came out to check .
“I came around 8pm at my house and made a phone call to one of my relatives and during the process I heard a loud noise. My wife then peeped through the window and informed me that there was fire outside at Mai Vale’s (Shupikai Makwara) house.
“When we came to assist there was a ball of fire and we all ran away. Some are saying they had just filled their gas tank and we suspect that they did not close it properly which resulted in the fire,” he said.
Ms Locardia Mutomba said they also tried to destroy the house from outside, but were driven back by the flames.
In October last year, eight people, including six foreigners died after gas exploded at SAS mine in Mazowe.
In August 2020, a 16-year-old girl died on the spot while three others were seriously injured after gas from a two-plate stove exploded in Southlea Park, Harare.
The three who were injured include two children aged eight and three and a 37-year- old woman identified as Monica Masawi. Herald.