Nine die in head-on collision

2011-08-23 00:00

A HEAD-ON collision between a CitiLiner bus and a truck carrying a load of oranges left nine people dead on the N3 near Estcourt yesterday morning.

The bus was travelling from Mthatha to Johannesburg with 60 people on board, including two drivers; the truck was travelling towards Durban.

Seven people died on the scene; one died on the way to hospital and another died in a provincial hospital.

The Durban-bound lane of the N2 was closed to traffic until midday.

Survivors described the scene as horrific with bodies of the injured and the dead strewn across the highway.

Transport spokesperson Zinhle Mngomezulu said the truck apparently crossed from the southbound lane into oncoming traffic, colliding head-on with the bus.

Five people were trapped inside the bus, as was the truck driver.

The bus was completely wrecked and the jaws of life were used to extricate the victims.

Among the dead are eight passengers and a bus driver.

The truck driver is said to be in a critical condition in a private hospital.

A paramedic who attended to the scene said fatigue and lack of rest contribute to the number of accidents involving trucks.

“These drivers are paid for trips they make so they don’t rest.

“They just keep on driving even though they feel exhausted,” said the paramedic.

The injured were taken to Estcourt and the provincial hospital in Ladysmith. Some with serious injuries were transferred to other hospitals, including Inkosi Albert Luthuli in Durban. Others were treated and discharged.

None of the passengers interviewed by The Witness could remember exactly what had happened. Some said reality sank in only after they had been admitted to hospital.

Vuyisile Nobedina is among the survivors. He was travelling from Mthatha to Pretoria.

Nobedina said he only remembers lying on the truck’s load and hearing the cries of the injured.

“I’ve never seen or imagined myself in such a situation.

“I don’t know how it happened and all I remember is seeing the bus getting into Ultra City, but it didn’t take on passengers, nor had anyone disembarked.

“Just a few minutes after joining the N3 I heard a loud bang and that was it,” said Nobedina.

He said he had a broken shin and his body was in pain.

CitiLine spokesperson Serenica Royenpan said the bus driver could not avoid the collision.

She said the company has arranged transport for relatives of the deceased from the Eastern Cape to identify the bodies of their loved ones.

Royenpan said, “This is a sad moment for both the company and the relatives of all those involved in the accident.

“We have made sure that all our passengers received medical treatment.”

This month already 30 people have been killed in three accidents that involved minibus taxis, buses and trucks.

Ten people were killed in Kokstad on August 6 in an accident involving a minibus taxi and a bus.

Five days later 11 others died in the Zululand district when their taxi collided head-on with a truck.

Mngomezulu said the deaths exclude the number of other accidents involving light motor vehicles.

“From yesterday’s accident nine counts of culpable homicide are being investigated against the truck driver,” said Mngomezulu.

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