Dozens feared dead in Kenyan bus plunge

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The Independent Online
Two buses broke through a bridge guardrail and plunged 200 feet into the rain-swollen Sabaki river in Kenya in an accident that may have killed more than 100 people.

Two buses broke through a bridge guardrail and plunged 200 feet into the rain-swollen Sabaki river in Kenya in an accident that may have killed more than 100 people.

Only 14 bodies have been recovered so far, and 28 people have been hospitalised, three of them, including the driver of one bus and his assistant, in critical condition. Scores more passengers were missing.

The four-year-old bridge is 500 meters (1,600 feet) from where the river empties into the Indian Ocean, and police fear many bodies may have been swept out to sea. Due to seasonal rains, the river is running faster than normal, and currents at its mouth, 60 miles north of Mombasa, are strong.

It was not known how many people were in the buses, which had been picking up passengers since Hola, 125 miles to the north, on their way to Malindi, an Indian Ocean resort eight miles south of the bridge. Kenyan buses are notoriously crowded, often carrying twice the number of many people legally allowed.

The buses had been travelling across the bridge at Sabaki at sunset on Sunday when one slowed to overtake a tourist van parked on the bridge, said a police spokesman.

The assistant to the driver of the slowing bus said that the second bus tried to pass his, then tried to stop when it saw the tourist van. The second bus's brakes failed, and it hit the first bus broadside, pushing it against the barrier and into the river, he said.

Police were trying without success to locate the tourist vehicle, which reportedly sped away from the scene.

Gideon Mung'aro, the mayor of Malindi, blamed the bus drivers' speeding and negligence and Kenya's lack of proper rescue and salvage equipment for the tragedy. "What we need is disaster preparedness. We have had the navy here overnight, and still nothing has moved. Even the fire brigade, but they don't have the capacity or the equipment," he said. "Today it is our local people. Tomorrow it will happen to visitors. It is very sad." (AP)

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