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'Miracle child' who survived bus crash that killed 45 could go home on Wednesday — health minister

Health minister Joe Phaahla briefs the media about progress made to identify victims of the bus crash.
Health minister Joe Phaahla briefs the media about progress made to identify victims of the bus crash.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

The eight-year-old girl who is the sole survivor of the Limpopo bus crash that claimed the lives of 45 people from Botswana is expected to return home on Wednesday. 

Health minister Joe Phaahla and Limpopo health MEC Phophi Ramathuba briefed media on Tuesday.

Lauryn Siako is spending time with her mother in hospital. 

It's a miracle the child survived without breaking any bones, just minor scratches and wounds which will heal. [On Wednesday] the child will be able to go home and that will also be done in conjunction with the Botswana embassy,” Phaala said.

Ramathuba said the child was in good spirits but to protect her media wouldn't be allowed to see her.

“You would not know the damage that can be caused by allowing one of you to be in because all of you will need that scoop and this is a child. We want them to focus on the physical recovery of the child from the wounds that are there, to recover well. Most importantly the mental health of the child and her mother,” she said. 

Phaahla visited the province to monitor progress made to identify and repatriate victims of the crash.

He confirmed there were eight identifiable bodies. Preliminary identification had been done on six of them. 

Initially it was reported there were nine identifiable bodies but the team established the ninth body was not identifiable.

“We can confirm that of those bodies which are identifiable postmortems are being done. That will be completed and for those families, working with the government of Botswana, the details of repatriation will be finalised by the end of this week,” said Phaahla.  

The most difficult is the process of identifying the remains of those who have been burnt beyond recognition.

“What is left is just for the more intense, legal requirement in terms of proper victim identification as required by SAPS to be completed,” he said.

“The X-ray tests have already been done but that's just the first part. The difficult part is now taking tissue samples, making sure those tissues can be subjected to DNA testing but also matching the DNA findings with those of possible relatives.

That it is going to take a lot of time. We are not in a position to commit [given] the advice from our own experts,” he said. 

“We are still talking about relatives who are in another country where there must be arrangements, samples taken, subjected to testing, matching all those samples and the results of those DNA tests.”

TimesLIVE


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