37 killed in bus accident near Malaysian resort
KUALA LUMPUR — Thirty-seven people have been confirmed dead in Malaysia’s worst road accident when a bus plunged into a deep ravine as it made its way down from the Genting Highlands resort in Pahang this afternoon (Aug 21).
Rescuers gave the death toll as police dog units scoured the undergrowth in the ravine for any more survivors of the accident that happened just before 3pm, some 4km from the popular hill resort. The driver, in his 40s, also died in the accident, police said.
So far, authorities revealed that three of the 37 who died were foreigners from Bangladesh, China and Thailand.
According to the New Straits Times (NST), police said the ill-fated express bus was believed to be overloaded. By carrying 53 people, it exceeded its maximum load capacity of 49. Initial reports had put the total number aboard the bus at 49.
It was reported that the bus driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed through the road barrier before plunging into the ravine. Authorities reported that passengers who were seated towards the front of the bus were flung out of the vehicle when it hit the trees.
Bentong police chief Superintendent Mansor Mohd Nor was quoted saying the police would also set up its own team to investigate the crash. He said investigators would consider if the cause was due to human or mechanical fault as the weather and road condition were normal.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who ordered a task force to probe into the fatal crash, was quoted saying: “I am deeply sad and shocked by such a horrible tragedy and my prayers are with the grieving families during this difficult time.”
As of 9.30pm. the rescue operations was called off after all the 37 bodies had been taken out from the wreckage. The police chief said the operation would continue tomorrow with the help of the K-9 unit.
The 16 passengers who were rescued, 10 men and six women, were sent to hospitals in Selayang, Kuala Lumpur, Sungai Buloh and Bentong. Some of them suffered severe injuries, said authorities.
The ravine, which is inaccessible by road, had forced rescue workers to use a crane to lift the victims.
The Genting Highlands road has seen several fatal bus accidents but this is said to be the worst along that stretch and in the country.
Before today’s crash, the worst accident in Malaysia over the past 10 years occurred near Cameron Highlands on Dec 20, 2010, when 28 people were killed after a double-decker bus overturned. The accident occurred near the 15km milestone on the Cameron Highlands-Simpang Pulai road. All the passengers were Thai nationals on their way back to Kuala Lumpur from the hill resort, in the company of three Malaysians - the bus driver, his assistant and a tour guide. AGENCIES