Algeria: 34 people killed in a collision between a bus and a van in the south

At least 34 people were killed and 12 injured in a collision between a coach and a utility vehicle near Tamanrasset in Algeria’s far south on Wednesday, civil protection announced.

According to the National Gendarmerie, the accident occurred at around 4 a.m. local time (0300 GMT) when a commercial vehicle hit a bus connecting Adrar to the city of Tamanrasset, some 2,000 km south of Algiers.

According to a press release from the ministry, the minister of health, Abdelhaq Saihi, went to the wilayah (prefecture) of Tamanrasset “in an emergency” to investigate the situation and take all necessary measures to care for the injured in the accident.

For his part, Mohamed Boudra, Wali (prefect) of Tamanrasset, visited the injured, some of whom had severe burns, being cared for at the “Mesbah-Baghdad” hospital in Tamanrasset, after supervising the evacuation of them and the 34 dead, according to the official Algerian agency APS.

The director of the establishment, Abdelkader Bika, told APS that of the 12 wounded still hospitalized, three were able to leave the hospital after “receiving the necessary care”.

According to the same source, there are nine injured people with burns “to varying degrees”.

On an official visit to China from Monday, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune expressed “deep sadness and sorrow” and “his sincere condolences” to the families of the victims.

The accident occurred near the village of Outaul, about twenty kilometers west of Tamanrasset, which is a transit area for the transport of goods from the south to the north of the country, and vice versa.

The coach carried passengers between two cities in the Algerian Sahara, Tamanrasset, a city of 150,000 inhabitants with an airport, and Adrar, which has about 65,000 inhabitants.

Algeria (AFP – Vincent Lefai, Laurence Soubadou)

According to residents in the area contacted by AFP by telephone, the bus was about to resume its journey after dropping off passengers in the town of Outaul when it was hit by a pickup truck, the cause of which is still unknown.

National Gendarmerie officer Samir Bouchehit told private television channel Ennaher that the pickup, which was carrying cans of gasoline, was “driving in the opposite direction on the left lane”.

“The first elements of the investigation suggest that responsibility lies with the driver of the pickup, which was loaded with gasoline cans, which caught fire at the time of the collision, causing a massive fire,” he added.

-burned alive-

Most of the victims were burned alive, according to several local media, which circulated pictures of the bus engulfed in flames, with one man watching helplessly at the raging blaze.

A bus caught fire after colliding with a utility vehicle near Tamanrasset in southern Algeria on July 19, 2023, killing more than 30 people (UGC/AFP - -)
A bus caught fire after colliding with a utility vehicle near Tamanrasset in southern Algeria on July 19, 2023, killing more than 30 people (UGC/AFP – -)

Other pictures showed the two vehicles involved in the accident completely charred and fire engines and civil defense at the scene. The condition of both vehicles shows a particularly violent effect.

In the video aired in the afternoon, we can see two vehicles being pulled which were removed from the road.

It is the deadliest accident in the region since late December 2020 when their vehicle, carrying mainly citizens from African countries, overturned near Tamanrasset, killing 20 people and injuring 11 others.

Bordering Niger and Mali, the Tamanrasset region is a crossing point for illegal migrants from sub-Saharan African countries who want to migrate to Europe via Algeria.

According to the National Delegation of Road Safety, the main cause of road accidents in Algeria is the speed of motorists, including public transport drivers.

According to the National Road Safety Representative, Nassef Abdelhakim, in 2022, about 22,980 traffic accidents were recorded in Algeria, killing 3,409 and injuring 30,479.

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