British students killed in South Africa bus crash

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The Independent Online

Three British students were killed in a bus crash in South Africa yesterday.

Two 19-year-olds died instantly when the four-wheel drive safari tour vehicle they were travelling in skidded and flipped on to its side near the city of Nelspruit, in the north east of the country. Officials say the third victim is a male student, who was trapped beneath the wreckage of the bus. Four others remained in intensive care.

They were part of a school group touring the country and were due to return to the UK today. The crash happened a few miles from Barberton on the Bulembu road, near Nelspruit, at lunchtime when the driver apparently lost control of the bus and it overturned.

A further 16 Britons – students and teachers – required hospital treatment for head, spine, collarbone, leg injuries and cuts. Several were kept overnight in hospital in Nelspruit, one of the host cities for the World Cup. The British High Commission spokesman said he understood the group of students were from Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire.

Police spokesman Captain Leonard Hlathi said: "There was a bus crash and two of the passengers, both female, passed away at the scene. Twenty were taken to the hospital and one, described as critical, was airlifted to Nelspruit Medi Clinic. The driver apparently lost control."

Brenda Greaves told the BBC she had spoken to her daughter Rachel, 20, who was on the bus. "She's got some abdominal pains, for which she's had an X-ray, but everything seems to be clear," she said. "She was wearing a seat belt, she says she was the only one wearing a seat belt - I'm not sure if that's the case - but it seems as if the seat belt sort of caused the pain."

Hospital spokeswoman Robin Baard said of the casualties: "Two of them were very seriously injured. One is in theatre with internal injuries." She said the four other patients she was aware of had injuries including facial lacerations, and plastic surgery would be necessary.

Nicola Brewer, the British High Commissioner to South Africa, said: "It is with great sadness that I can confirm that two British nationals have been killed today in a coach crash in Barberton, near Nelspruit.

"They were part of a group of 18 students and two of their lecturers on a field trip. Our thoughts and sympathies are with the families and loved ones of those involved.

"I am leading a crisis team that is on its way to Nelspruit. Our first priority will be to visit the injured in hospital and get in touch with their families back home."

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