17 DIE IN burnt-out BUS

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

Seventeen people burnt beyond recognition and 24 others were injured in yet another horrific bus accident in Mpumalanga yesterday.

The accident happened on the N4 Road between Hectorspruit and Komatipoort at about 4am.

The bus was carrying passengers from Carletonville in the North West to Mozambique. Survivors said the accident happened when the driver failed to control the bus after its tyre burst.

"Almost all of us were asleep when suddenly there was a big sound of the tyre bursting," said Johannes Ngaunde, a survivor.

"The bus then veered off the road. The driver tried to control it, but the trailer it was hauling was too heavy for it because it was overloaded," he said.

He said the bus rolled several metres before hitting a tree and bursting into flames. The driver was one of the survivors - but his assistant died on the scene.

Four bodies were found inside the burnt-out bus while the rest were removed from underneath the wreckage after the bus was lifted with a crane.

Survivors who were not seriously injured were later taken to Mozambique in another bus.

The injured were taken to Tonga Hospital.

The provincial department of roads and transport expressed its condolences with the families of the deceased and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

"We will launch a full inquiry into this accident to find out what actually happened. We are working earnestly to ensure safety on the roads and prevent a recurrence of such terrible tragedies," department spokesman David Nkambule said.

Nkambule appealed to road users to obey the rules of the road for their own safety and that of other road users.

The accident comes hardly a month after 12 people were killed in the same province when the bus they were travelling in overturned on the R40. The bus was transporting people from White River to Nelspruit.

Yesterday's accident happened less than a kilometre from where 22 people burnt to ashes while heading for Mozambique last year.

The management of the Vaal-Maseru Bus Company, which owns the bus involved in the accident, could not be reached for comment.