13 die in double-coach bus carnage

Riot Hlatshwayo and Mhlaba Memela

Riot Hlatshwayo and Mhlaba Memela

Thirteen people were killed and more than 80 others injured when a bus driver lost control of the vehicle in Mpumalanga during the morning rush hour yesterday.

This brings to 44 the number of people who have died on the province's roads in three days.

The double-couch bus was transporting about 100 passengers when it hit a pavement and overturned along the R40 road between Nelspruit and White River at about 6.40am.

It was travelling from several trusts around the Masoyi area when the accident occurred.

Several people were thrown out of the bus as it somersaulted and rolled until its wreck rested between two one-way roadways.

"Eleven people died on the accident scene, 23 including the driver were seriously injured. Three were critically injured and 62 sustained minor injuries," said Mpumalanga police spokesman Superintendent Abie Khoabane yesterday.

Though police could not immediately confirm two other deaths, Sowetan was told that two other victims of the accident later died at the Rob Ferreira Hospital in Nelspruit.

Of the 11 who died on the scene, six were men and five were women, but the sexes of those reported to have died at the hospital had not been confirmed at the time of going to press.

Police said the cause of the accident was not known, but a high-level investigation was in progress.

Mpumalanga roads and transport MEC David Mabuza expressed shock and sent condolences to the families of the dead victims as well as wishing a speedy recovery to the injured.

"The department is deeply touched by the loss of lives and sends its condolences to relatives of the dead victims as well as wishing the injured a speedy recovery," said Mabuza, who visited both the accident scene and the Rob Ferreira Hospital where the injured were admitted.

John Ngobe, the spokesman for Buscor, the company that owns the bus, was said to be engaged in a meeting about the accident when contacted for comment.

Buscor is one of the most successful bus companies in the country and ferries people from local townships, villages and trusts to various towns and to and from work on a 24-hour basis.

The identities of the dead could not be released yesterday as police were still struggling to locate their relatives and inform them about the accident.

A dark cloud continued to hang over the KwaZulu-Natal province yesterday as it recorded yet another accident, less than three days after the death of 31 passengers in horrific road crashes on Monday.

Yesterday, traffic was brought to a standstill on the M7 between Pinetown and Queensburgh during the rush hour while emergency and rescue teams cleared the scene of an accident, after a car pile-up involving 13 vehicles.

ER24 spokesman Derrick Banks said the brakes of a heavy-duty truck failed while it was travelling along the M7 and slammed into other cars.

"No fatalities were reported, but it took over three hours for the team to clear the road," he said.