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Minibus plunges into ravine near Lake Toba, kills two Malaysian

Publication Date : 29-06-2012


Eight people were killed, including two Malaysians, and four others injured when a minibus they were travelling in plunged into a 150-metre-deep ravine in the resort area of Batu Gantung, Lake Toba, Simalungun, in North Sumatra early yesterday.

Police suspect the cause of the accident was human error, as the driver was tired after watching a semi final in the 2012 Euro soccer competition.

Simalungun Police traffic unit chief, Adj. Sr. Comr. Baginda Sihotang, said that based on statements from survivors, before the accident, the driver and passengers took a rest and watched the soccer on television in Balige.

After they finished watching the match and had resumed their seats on board, added Sihotang, the minibus’ driver, Lindung, took off at high speed toward Medan. But, at a corner near Batu Gantung, the bus, carrying 12 people, including the driver, crashed down into the ravine.

"The driver might have been sleepy when he failed to take the corner and dropped directly into the ravine, crashing into rocks and trees," Sihotang told The Jakarta Post.

He added that the accident had taken place at around 5 a.m. local time. The driver was driving the minibus very fast as it was dark and the road was deserted. The driver did not have the chance to apply the brakes as the minibus went off the road.

Sihotang said eight people, including the driver and the two Malaysian citizens, were killed instantly, while the four remaining passengers were injured.

"Two Malaysian citizens, identified by their passports, were killed," confirmed Sihotang. The two Malaysians were identified as Zaidun bin Badir and Zulkifli bin Muhammad Nasir.

The bodies of the eight dead were recovered by a joint search and rescue (SAR) team by way of the lake because the land route was too treacherous and steep and full of boulders and trees. The recovery process, which took around 10 hours to complete, ended at 3:30 p.m. All the deceased were taken to Pematang Siantar General Hospital.

The four survivors are currently being treated for their injuries at the Vita Insani Hospital in Pematang Siantar and Parapat General Hospital. They have been identified as Arwan, a reserve driver, Sarno and his siblings, 10-year-old Meinanur and 5-year-old Sakti A.W., who are in critical condition, suffering from a combination of head injuries and leg fractures.

One of the SAR team members, James Sinaga, said recovering the dead and evacuating the injured was challenging due to the position of the minibus, as it had landed on the edge of a cliff overlooking Lake Toba.

"We initially intended to evacuate the victims by pulling them from the top of the ravine, but it was too risky due to the rocks and trees. We eventually sought an alternative route via the lake," said Sinaga, adding that the minibus had been located around 50 metres from Batu Gantung facing toward Parapat.


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