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Bus crash in Genting Highlands, Malaysia, leaves 37 dead
Publication Date : 22-08-2013
Thirty-seven people were killed in the Malaysia's worst road tragedy, after a bus carrying 53 passengers plunged into a 60m ravine near Genting Highlands around 2:45pm Wednesday.
The dead included 24 males and 13 females. Sixteen people were injured in the incident.
The 2:45pm accident happened when the ill-fated bus was descending a steep slope.
Fire and Rescue Department principal assistant director (Operations) Soiman Jahid said some 450 personnel from his department, the police and Civil Defence Department were involved in the search and rescue operation, which was finally called off at 10pm.
He said the cause of the accident had yet to be determined and that they had yet to interview witnesses.
"But the descent was very steep and if the bus was not controlled well, it could have skidded and plunged into the ravine. This is the initial assessment of the rescue team," he said.
He said the dead included the driver of the bus.
It is believed that the driver lost control of the bus, which then rammed a divider before plunging down the gorge.
Some of the passengers were flung from the bus during the incident.
According to the police, more than half the passengers on the bus were foreigners, from China, Bangladesh and Thailand
The bus was also overloaded as its capacity was 44 passengers, authorities said.
There were 18 ambulances sent to crash site, and the first arrived at the scene at 5pm. All 37 casualties died at the scene.
The 16 survivors comprised seven Malaysians, three Indonesians, four Bangladeshis, one Thai national, and one Korean.
Six are in critical condition, and one has been declared safe.
The accident occurred at KM-36 of the Genting-Kuala Lumpur road, some two kilometres from the Chin Swee Caves Temple, as the bus carrying 53 people was coming down from Genting Highlands and heading towards Kuala Lumpur.
Pahang Sultan Ahmad Shah and Bentong MP Liow Tiong Lai were among those who arrived at the scene earlier in the evening and were briefed by authorities.
Earlier, rescuers worked frantically to reach people trapped in the bus. Some 30 policemen and nine ambulances were at the scene.
Traffic in the area was at a standstill as police ensured rescue vehicles could reach the scene of the accident.
Bentong OCPD Superintendent Mansor Mohd Noor confirmed the incident to The Star but could not give further details.
"I can confirm that there were passengers on the bus but how many there were I don't know yet.
"Authorities are en route to the site now," he said.
Daunting task for rescuers
Fire and Rescue Department personnel were faced with an enormous task when they rushed to the scene of a bus crash at Genting Highlands. The shattered bus lay some 60m in a ravine near the Chin Swee Cave temple and bodies were everywhere.
A rescuer from the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (Smart), who declined to be named, said mangled bodies were everywhere, adding that he had never seen carnage on such a scale.
Firemen used a construction crane with a long boom to lower the firemen to where the bus lay. The victims were brought up on a gondola attached to the boom of the crane.
“It was a race to find the survivors because we all knew time was running out,” said Civil Defence Department (JPAM) officer Mohd Safari Nasaruddin, 29. “It was the first time I’ve seen so many bodies and I couldn’t stop to think about it.”
It was the worst road crash in the country’s history. Thirty-seven people were killed and 16 others injured after the bus went out of control, rammed a road barrier and plunged into the ravine.
The stage bus, which was ferrying 53 passengers, was reportedly “wobbly” before ramming into a barrier and plunging into a 60m ravine at KM-3.5 of the Genting Highlands road while heading back to Kuala Lumpur at about 2:20pm yesterday.
The site where the wrecked bus lay was said to be a gory one.
Fire and Rescue department assistant director general (operations) Soiman Jahid said: “We believe the bus skidded out of control before smashing into the concrete road divider.”
He said the first victim was hoisted to safety at 3:38pm.
“A total of 456 personnel from various agencies including the Fire and Rescue department, the police and Smart and Civil Defence department took part in the operation.”
Housing and Urban Wellbeing Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan said the bus was a 44-seater and most of the passengers who survived the crash were seated at the back.
Asked if the bus was overloaded, Rahman replied: “You do the math.”
Rescuers had to rely on cranes as well as the Fire and Rescue department K-9 unit to search for victims. Rescue operations were hampered by a downpour.
At around 6pm, it started raining, with winds bringing in mist to envelope the hill slope where the wrecked bus was lying on its side. The situation was tense as rescuers moved quickly to extricate bodies.
As night fell, rescue personnel put up spotlights to help in the search. Rescue operations ended at 10pm.
Many people were waiting at the Selayang Hospital to find out if their loved ones were among the victims.
A check with the Road Transport Department (JPJ) showed the bus was blacklisted.