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53 killed in Zambian bus crash

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 8th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

At least 53 people have been killed in one of Zambia's worst ever reported traffic accidents. A postal service truck carrying passengers headed for the capital of Lusaka smashed into a semi-truck and another car. Dead bodies pulled from the wreckage have been posted in the local media.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The wreck occurred near the town of Chifamba, about 60 miles north of Lusaka, police spokeswoman Elizabeth Kanjela said. Images of rescuers climbing over the smashed-in front-end of the white bus, the remains of the orange semi-truck in pieces in front of it have been widely broadcast. The scene of the accident was on a two-lane highway that connects the capital to neighboring Tanzania.

Zambia's Information Minister Kennedy Sakeni said at least 53 people died in the crash, while another 22 had been taken to local hospitals. A sport utility vehicle also was involved in the crash.

Zambia Postal Services runs the bus routes throughout the country, carrying passengers and mail through the nation of 13 million people in southern Africa.

Kanjela said that rescuers were unable to go into the wreckage of the bus to search for survivors, even hours after the crash.

Zambian police have since charged an elderly farmer in connection with the crash. It was determined that the bus crashed into an oncoming truck after swerving to avoid 74-year-old farmer Vandeem Abraham's vehicle, which was overtaking the truck, according to police chief Stella Libongani.

"From our investigations, the driver of the Land Cruiser Mr. Vandeem Abraham is the cause of the accident and has since been charged with 51 counts of causing death by dangerous driving," Libongani said in a statement.

The highway where the crash happened is known for having high traffic, even during the night.

"Allow me on behalf of my Cabinet, the First Lady and indeed on my own behalf to convey my deepest condolences to the bereaved families," Zambian President Michael Sata said, offering his condolences to the families who lost loved ones in the crash. "We pray that the Lord almighty grants the bereaved families comfort and strength during this very painful period."

The incident was one of the worst for Zambia in recent years. In April 2005, a truck packed with high school students skidded off a mountain road in northern Zambia, killing at least 38 and seriously injuring another 50.

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