Saturday, April 13, 2024

Tragic Bus Accident Claims Lives of Botswana Travellers on Easter Pilgrimage

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A bus carrying worshippers from Botswana to South Africa for Easter festivities careened off a bridge in northern South Africa, claiming the lives of at least 45 people. The tragic accident occurred as the bus, filled with thirty-one female and fifteen male Botswana passengers, plunged 50 meters (164 feet) into a ravine before bursting into flames upon impact with the rocky ground below.

The sole survivor of the devastating crash is an eight-year-old girl, who sustained serious injuries and is currently receiving medical attention. The incident, which unfolded near the town of Mokopane, approximately 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Pretoria, has left communities in mourning and authorities scrambling to address the aftermath.

Expressing profound sorrow and solidarity, President Hakainde Hichilema extended heartfelt condolences to His Excellency Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, the Government, and the people of Botswana. “On behalf of the Government, people of the Republic of Zambia, and indeed on my own behalf, we wish to convey our sincere and heartfelt condolences…on this tragedy and loss of life,” remarked President Hichilema.

The bus, which bore a Botswana license plate, was en route to Moria in Limpopo, South Africa, for a popular Easter weekend pilgrimage associated with the Zion Christian Church. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa conveyed his condolences to President Masisi, pledging support and assistance in the wake of the catastrophe.

As rescue operations continue amidst the harrowing scene, authorities grapple with the daunting task of identifying victims, many of whom were burned beyond recognition or trapped inside the vehicle. The cause of the accident remains under investigation, with Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga emphasizing the need for heightened road safety measures during the Easter weekend.

Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga, who went to the scene of the incident, extended her “heartfelt condolences to the families affected by the tragic bus crash”.

She said the South African government would help repatriate the bodies and hold a full inquiry into the cause of the crash.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time,” she added. “We continue to urge responsible driving at all times with heightened alertness as more people are on our roads this Easter weekend.”

South Africa has a poor road safety record.

Ms Chikunga told eNCA the road the bus fell from is “winding with sharp bends, hairpin bends, a road that I’d never advise any person who is driving a heavy vehicle such as a bus, such as a truck, to use”.

Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi offered his “deepest condolences” to the pilgrims’ relatives, as well as the church they belonged to, following the “heartbreaking” crash, a statement from his party said.

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