Writes Elvis Dumba
Kadoma – Officials from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Mines, Defense, Environmental Management Agency, and security authorities as well as civil protection unit which includes police and army have instituted an investigation over a suspected unknown gas leakage or explosion that resulted in a gas poisoning incident at Jameson High School in Kadoma that saw at least 53 students taken for hospitalization after being infected.
This week, students and staff were rushed to Kadoma General Hospital as they were about to start school when they started collapsing.
Some of the students admitted at the Kadoma General Hospital said they smelt a strange odour similar to some pesticides used in maize storage treatment.
Vimbainashe Wirelesi, one of the affected students who was admitted to the hospital said she started feeling dizzy when she smelt the unknown gases.
“We were at the school assembly when I saw some of my colleagues just fainting and I started smelling a funny smell and I started losing breath. I don’t remember what happened next and only found myself in the hospital,” she said.
Mashonaland West Provincial Medical Director, Dr. Selestino Dhege visited the victims at Kadoma General Hospital and confirmed that investigations are ongoing.
“We have instituted investigations on the cause and the source of the gases that have affected the children to find out the type of the gases. We have suggested the temporary closure of the school until we have found the source of the problem and are satisfied that it is safe,” he said.
Dr Dhege said blood samples have been sent for laboratory tests to ascertain the type of the gas.
“We are sending blood samples for toxicology testing and identify the type of the gases that may have affected the students but we have so far excluded methane gas,” Dr Dhege said after he rushed to the hospital following the news of the incident.
Meanwhile, Mashonaland West Provincial Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Hon Marian Chombo, also visited the students at the hospital soon after getting the news and committed government support towards, the investigations and treatment of the students.
“I rushed to ascertain the level of disaster that has affected our students at Jameson High School here in Kadoma and pledge government support through the civil protection unit to identify what really transpired and ensure that the students and others get the necessary treatment,” she said.
Hon Chombo visited the admitted students and staff at the hospital in the company of Mashonaland West Permanent Secretary Josphat Jaji and other government officials
The unknown gases also affected areas near the school such as the District Development Coordinator offices where some staff members were also affected.