Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Harare - An explosion has ripped a silo at Grain Marketing Board Lion’s Den depot 150km north-west of Zimbabwe capital, Harare, on Tuesday, leaving one person dead and at least four employees unaccounted for.

The explosion is suspected to have been caused by an electric fault and part of the grain silos was damaged, resulting in the blockage of the tunnel.

A worker at the depot said there was a loud bang Tuesday afternoon, adding that rescue efforts were underway.

“I saw four bodies, but there was one of a woman which was crushed beyond recognition. The fire brigade called from Chegutu is making little headway because there is too much smoke which is obstructing rescuers,” the GMB employee, who preferred anonymity, said.

“There is also one person thus far who has been rescued and seems alive. He has been taken to hospital.”

A roll by the GMB officials indicated that four workers could not be accounted for.

Outgoing lands, agriculture and rural resettlement minister Perrance Shiri flew to the scene and said investigations were being carried out by forensic experts to ascertain the cause of the explosion.

Zimbabwe Republic Police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba initially said she would respond to African News Agency (ANA), but later her mobile phone went off.

GMB spokesperson Joseph Katete’s was not immediately available for comment.

The explosion resulted in a fire in the control tower plant, which collapsed on impact.

The plant and one of the silos caught fire following the incident, which also severely damaged the foundation of the silo.

Several concrete blocks forming the foundation of the silo’s escape route were ripped up and strewn metres way off the storage facility.

Lion’s Den depot is Zimbabwe’s largest grain storage centre.

African News Agency/ANA