53 killed in Cameroon bus blaze

Published January 28, 2021, 6:25 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

Fifty-three people died Wednesday when a bus collided with a fuel-laden van in Cameroon, causing a blaze that engulfed both vehicles, the local governor said.

“The dead have all been burned beyond identification,” said Awa Fonka Augustine, the governor of West Region.

Twenty-nine people suffered severe burns, including two young children and a four-month-old baby, according to a list of the injured the local hospital sent to AFP.

The 70-seat bus collided head-on with the van at around 3.30am at a location called the Cliff of Dschang, in central-western Cameroon, the governor said.

The stretch of road is notorious for accidents, with hairpin bends and ravines.

The governor said fog may have been a cause of the accident, and an initial investigation found that the van had a “brake problem”.

In a later statement, he said the van had been carrying “adulterated fuel”, which is prohibited.

Transport Minister Jean Ernest Ngalle Bibehe said the “unfortunate incident which occurred during the night highlights the problem of night trips favoured by some inter-city passenger transport companies — and the need for their supervision.”

“An investigation has been opened which will establish who was responsible and take the appropriate measures,” he said in a statement.

Manfred Missimikin of road accident prevention NGO Securoute said “a succession of negligence” was to blame for the tragedy.

“The van carrying fuel was not authorised to do so,” he told AFP.

“Furthermore, when the violence of the impact seen in images of the accident is analysed, it is evident that the van was speeding.”

He also denounced the “lightness of police” presence as there were no checkpoints set up at the dangerous cliff section of the road.

At least 37 people, including 10 women and four children, were killed in central Cameroon on December 27 when their bus smashed into a truck and tumbled down a ravine.