24 people have been killed and 8 critically injured in a horror bus accident in the Hex River Valley near De Doorns, in the Western Cape province of South Africa.
It appears that the brakes of the double decker Atlantic City bus failed, with the bus careening down the Hex River valley road with the driver struggling to maintain control on the hair pin bends. With two more bends to negotiate before the end of the pass, the bus driver finally lost control and the bus crashed into the rocky mountain side lining the road.
The accident occurred at approximately 9am on Friday morning, with the bus en route from the town of Beaufort West to Cape Town. According to Kenny Africa, the chief of the traffic department in the Western Cape, it appears that the bus’s brakes failed, as the bus driver drove on to the arrestor bed on the pass, designed to slow down heavy vehicles in the event of brake problems. However, the arrestor bed did not stop the bus in time and the driver was forced to continue down the treacherous pass.
The bus was carrying several members of the Twelve Apostles Church in Christ, on their way back from a national women’s prayer meeting in Secunda, said the provincial leader of the church, Dumisani Ximbi.
Other members of the church who had been travelling behind the double decker bus in smaller vehicles, could be seen standing at the accident site dressed in their distinctive church uniform of blue skirts and white headscarves. The survivors of the accident huddled together and made use of blankets and food provided by the church members. A leader of the church gathered together bystanders and survivors and led them in prayer, while rescue workers struggled to treat the injured and free those that were still trapped in the wreckage. The accident scene was a horrific site to see, with bodies being laid out on the road, covered in sheets, and passengers’ belongings scattered across the pass.
As of Friday evening, 24 people had been pronounced dead, making this accident one of the worst traffic accidents in South African history. The bus driver was one of those confirmed dead. A further eight passengers were critically injured, with 14 sustaining serious injuries and a further 44 sustaining minor, non-life threatening injuries. Two of the deceased were children.