Eight die in Underberg bus accident

2009-03-12 00:00

EIGHT people were killed when a long-distance bus overturned and rolled down an embankment yesterday afternoon near Underberg.

The bus was travelling from Umtata to Gauteng with 36 passengers. It overturned after the driver lost control on the R617 about five kilometres south of Underberg at around 4 pm.

“At this point, eight were confirmed dead and many others were injured and taken to various hospitals in the area,” said Transport Department spokeswoman Nonkululeko Mbatha, adding that emergency services were still busy at the scene.

Mbatha said there was heavy rain at the time of the accident.

A police officer at the scene said they have not ruled out speeding as a possible cause and that the bus lost control upon exiting a curve in the road.

According to Chris Hlabisa, head of the KZN Transport Department, the Road and Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) could not find a jaws of life to extricate the trapped passengers.

He said the bus operator is Tilly’s Transport, a private carrier that is not listed in the Yellow Pages.

Netcare 911 spokesman Chris Botha said two passengers were in a critical condition, 12 sustained serious injuries and 20 were left with minor injuries.

“The bus rolled 50 metres down the embankment and landed on its roof … Our guys at the scene said it was quite a chaotic scene — people lying everywhere … An enormous amount of staff was needed to stabilise everyone,” he said.

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