Twelve dead in tragic Algeria bus collision

Twelve dead in tragic Algeria bus collision
3 min read
19 January, 2020
A collision between two buses left at least twelve people dead on Sunday.
The two buses collided in the early hours of Sunday [Twitter]

Twelve people were killed and another 46 injured when two buses collided in Algeria's northeast early on Sunday, emergency services said, in the latest tragedy of its kind in the North African country. 

Emergency teams arrived at "around 1:10 am (0010 GMT) following a fatal accident, a collision between two buses, on the state highway near the city of Astil" in the province of Biskra, 500 km southeast of Algiers, a statement said.

"Twelve people, aged 19 to 73, were killed and 46 were injured," it added.

Public radio quoted Ahmed Baoudji, director of emergency services for the nearby city of El Oued, as saying preliminary investigations indicated speeding was the probable cause.

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune offered his condolences to the victims' families and asked Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad to oversee assistance, the radio added, while Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud and Health Minister Abderrahmane Benbouzid went to the scene.

According to the national road safety commission, a government agency, 3,275 people were killed in road crashes in Algeria in 2019 and more than 30,000 injured - fewer than in previous years.

It also reported a small decrease in the number of accidents -- almost 22,000 - compared to 2018.

Last month Tunisia and Morocco, which neighbour Algeria, were in mourning after two bus crashes that were among the deadliest in the region. On December 1, 30 people died in northwest Tunisia when a bus plunged off a cliff.

The bus had set off from Tunis to the picturesque mountain town of Ain Draham, a popular autumn destination for Tunisians near the Algerian border, the tourism ministry said.

Pictures and video footage shared online and posted on the websites of private radio stations showed the mangled remains of the bus with its seats scattered in the bed of a river.

Read more: Tunisian bus plunges off cliff, killing over 20

Bodies, some in sports clothes and trainers, and personal belongings were strewn across the ground.

The bus with 43 people on board was travelling through the Ain Snoussi region when it plunged over the cliff, the interior ministry said.

The vehicle had "fallen into a ravine after crashing through an iron barrier," it said on its Facebook page.

The injured were transferred to nearby hospitals, the interior ministry said.

Social network users bemoaned the tragedy, as Tunisian President Kaid Saied and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed arrived at the site of the accident.

"What a heavy toll," one of them said.

Another denounced the "roads of death" in Tunisia and wrote: "24 dead and no one from the government has declared a national catastrophe".

The World Health Organisation in 2015 said Tunisia had the second worst traffic death rate per capita in North Africa, behind only war-torn Libya.

Experts blamed run-down roads, reckless driving and poor vehicle maintenance for a rise in accidents the following year.

The authorities recognise the scale of the problem but have said the country's security challenges, including militant attacks, have kept them from giving it more attention.

On the same day, at least 17 were killed in the north of Morocco.

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