Divers search for more bodies

2011-08-24 14:00
Johannesburg - Seventeen people died, 16 of them children, and 42 were injured when a school bus plunged off a bridge and into a dam in Knysna on Wednesday, said Western Cape police.

"A police dive team remains on-scene to secure that all passengers are accounted for but at this stage it appears that all are accounted for," said Captain Malcolm Pojie.

"Forty-two children have been taken to hospital and are being treated for minor injuries and shock."

The children were pupils at the Rheenendal Primary School and were on their way to school at the time of the crash.

Search continues

"We not sure how many children were on the bus. We are retrieving it from the water and divers will continue to search for more bodies. The bus plunged off a lower bridge into a river that appears to have flooded during the night by heavy rainfall," Pojie said.

Emergency services spokesperson Kerry Davids said all the children were between the ages of 7 and 14. She said the 42 injured were taken to hospital with back and neck pain, and mild hypothermia.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was shocked at the deaths.

"The department of basic education would like to send sincere condolences to the families of the learners, and indeed the entire schooling community," she said in a statement.

Social workers and psychologists were on the scene counselling parents, school staff and children.

Unnecessary loss of lives

At least 60 people had died in six separate accidents this month, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said in a statement.

"We cannot go on like this. This horrific road crash in Knysna... is yet again an unnecessary loss of lives," he said.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation has sent an accident investigation team and reconstruction specialists to assist the investigation into the crash.

"We want to convey condolences to the families and colleagues of those killed, and wish the injured a speedy recovery," Ndebele said.

Earlier, ER24 spokesperson Andre Visser said the driver lost control of the bus and it rolled into the dam.

"The only part of the bus sticking out of the water is the rear."

Savagely punished

Police divers, paramedics and emergency services were on the scene.

Western Cape Transport MEC Robin Carlisle said he was on his way to Knysna.

"We will obviously be there to find out the facts, to assist wherever we can and to ensure that if there has been any negligence or irresponsibility, that those found guilty will be savagely punished.

"This is an unspeakable tragedy and a bitter blow coming one day from the anniversary tomorrow of the Blackheath taxi crash that killed 10 children, on August 25 last year," he said.

The children died when their minibus taxi was hit by a train after jumping a line of stopped cars at a level crossing at Blackheath in Cape Town.

Carlisle said he was being accompanied by Education MEC Donald Grant, Community Safety MEC Dan Plato, and Finance MEC Allan Winde.
Read more on:    rtmc  |  robin carlisle  |  angie motshekga  |  sbu ndebele  |  george  |  schoolbus tragedy  |  knysna bus disaster  |  transport  |  accidents

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

When you combine environment, entrepreneurship and technology its pure genius. Meet the genius behind Eco-Fuel Africa, Sanga Moses.



China's air pollution at doomsday levels
Hurricanes, earthquakes and floods – What climate change really means for us
Moving short film on ivory trade
10 Tips for Greener Shopping

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

The pace may be slow today and you may struggle to get things off the ground level, but it is important to focus on the structure...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.