Victims cannot be reached in major bus accident
A three-year-old was airlifted to an East London hospital in a critical state and 21 people lost their lives on the scene, while some are still trapped under a bus that rolled 200 metres down a steep mountain slope near Mazeppa Bay in Centane on Monday morning.
The accident occurred at around 8am on the gravel road near Tafalofefe hospital when the bus overturned more than fifteen times, according to eyewitnesses. The driver is among the deceased.
The South African National Defence Force has been called to the scene to assist in the rescue mission as it is difficult for emergency services to reach and rescue the victims. The Eastern Cape Department of Health dispatched two helicopters and ambulances to rescue what is believed to have been 79 passengers, a suspected overload.
The Marcopolo bus was travelling from Cebe towards Butterworth. According to Unathi Binqose, spokesperson for the Department of Transport, the driver lost control of the bus. 20 people have been rushed to the nearest hospital. 12 people escaped without any injuries.
“Our helicopters cannot land but our ambulances are on the ground while others are on their way to the scene of the accident. The department is trying to get the SAPS to help in the rescue mission,” said Sizwe Kupelo, Provincial Health spokesperson.
Kupelo said first responders are currently on the scene. “We have instructed hospitals in Mthatha and East London to keep beds unoccupied in anticipation that those who might be injured will be transferred there. As soon as the search and rescue mission has been completed, we will keep people informed as to where they should go to see their loved ones,” assured Kupelo. The police search and rescue team from East London is also en route to the scene.
"The cause of the accident is still unknown but is under investigation. The road remains closed to allow emergency service to operate," said Binqose.