At least 10 people have been killed in a tragic bus accident on the N3 near the Bergville offramp in KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday.
KZN EMS spokesperson Robert McKenzie said a bus has crashed off the highway and into the bush.
“There are reports of multiple fatalities and injuries. EMS are on scene treating patients with additional help on the way,” he said.
Netcare911 said reports from the scene indicate that the bus was travelling in a north bound direction when the driver lost control.
The bus crashed through the barrier into the south bound lane, rolling several times, and ejecting some occupants in the process.
On arrival of emergency services, Netcare911 said at least fifty people were found to have suffered injuries ranging from moderate to serious.
Claudine Senekal of the Ladysmith Herald, who is on the scene of the bus crash, told The Witness that the scene was chaotic.
She said there were responders from EMRS Okahlamba Bergville, the Alfred Duma public safety search and rescue unit who are busy lifting the bus with the jaws of life, the Ladysmith search and rescue K9 unit as well as high ranking police officers from Ladysmith, Colenso and Winterton.
“There are people crying and screaming. Some patients sat on the ground in shock, like they didn’t know what had happened. Bodies found were mangled. People are asking for help. There’s a man crying. He just found out his family passed away.”
Senekal said it was a gruesome scene.
“Several red codes (seriously injured people) were rushed to hospital and there are fears the death toll could rise. The bus is lying on its side. You can see the seats. The top of the bus was ripped off in the crash which happened literally a stone’s throw from the Tugela River.”
She said four to five busloads of injured people had been rushed to Ladysmith hospitals.
Bus company comments on the accident
Eldo Coaches, the company that owns the bus that was involved in the crash, said the bus had departed from Durban Station at approximately 6.45 am on Tuesday, and was traveling to Johannesburg.
Eldo Coaches said according to information at hand, the accident was caused by a blow out of the front wheel tyre and the coach rolled.
“We are cooperating fully with local authorities to ensure that the accident is thoroughly investigated.
“We are doing our best to assist all passengers that were on board. All emergency and medical services are presently on scene.”
The bus company said it is currently getting in touch with all emergency contacts of the passengers that were on board.
“We wish to extend our condolences to family of those who were affected by this tragedy and assure the community of our outgoing support during this difficult time,” said the company.
Anyone who might have had a family member or friend travelling on the bus can contact the company on 011 852 6120 or 011 940 8088 or 012 3235474.
N3 still closed
The N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) said the southbound lanes, at the scene of the crash, were still closed off to traffic by yesterday afternoon.
Road users are advised to expect traffic delays in the vicinity of the crash.
N3TC asked road users to please remain patient and to afford emergency services and law enforcement officials the opportunity to complete their difficult tasks.
Colonel Thembeka Mbele of the SAPS KZN media centre said the bus carried 66 passengers.
"It is alleged that there was a blow out on right front tyre. The driver of the bus lost control causing the vehicle to veer over the centre median and as well as over as south bound carriage lane. The vehicle then overturned and came to a standstill off the road way. At this stage there are 10 fatalities. The injured have been transported to local hospitals."
She said a culpable homicide case has been opened at Colenso SAPS for further investigation.
*This is a developing story.
-Video by Claudine Senekal, Ladysmith Herald