At least 42 people have been killed and 25 others injured after the bus in which they were travelling plunged into a ravine while traversing the Atlas mountains in the South of Morocco.

The bus was travelling between the popular tourist destination city of Marrakesh and the town of Ourzazate in southern Morocco when the accident occurred, about 100km south of the capital. According to eye witness reports, the bus suddenly veered off the main road in the mountainous province of Haouz at around 2am on Tuesday morning, plunging more than 150m into a gorge.

A local official has confirmed that all of the deceased are thought to be Moroccan citizens. However, the identification of the victims is not yet complete. This is the most fatal bus accident in Morocco’s history. Morocco’s poor road conditions have been implicated in a number of accidents, the most recent being a bus accident that resulted in 24 people drowning after their bus plunged into a river outside the capital city, Rabat. In July of this year, a further 12 people were killed when a lorry driver crashed into an overloaded passenger bus in central Morocco.

Moroccan based news agencies have confirmed that as well as the 42 fatalities, at least 25 people have been injured, all of whom have been transported to regional hospitals and are undergoing treatment. Several passengers were critically injured, and the death toll of the accident is expected to rise.

Emergency response vehicles were dispatched to the accident scene where they attempted to free the bodies of the deceased and survivors from the wreckage. According to MAP news agency, 38 people were found dead on the scene, and a further five died en route to hospital.

The cause of the tragic accident has yet to be determined, and Moroccan officials have confirmed that an investigation into the crash has been opened. A crisis team has been formed to deal with queries from survivors and the families of the deceased. The Haouz provincial governer, Mr. Younes El Bathaoui, travelled to the accident site to oversee the rescue efforts and the start of the investigation into the incident.

Road traffic accidents claimed 4200 lives in 2011, a figure that is expected to rise this year. The minister of transport has sent his condolences to the family members of those killed in the crash, and stated in a press release that he is aware that changes need to be made to improve the safety of public transport in the country.

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