Two British students killed in South Africa crash

Joe Sinclair,Press Association
Sunday 23 October 2011 07:07

Two British female students were killed in a bus crash in South Africa today, police said.

Speaking at the scene near Nelspruit, police spokesman Captain Leonard Hlathi said the bus was carrying a group of students, who were due to return home to the UK tomorrow.

He said: "There was a bus crash and two of the passengers, both female, passed away at the scene.

"Twenty of them were taken to the hospital and one of them was described as critical and was airlifted to Nelspruit Medi Clinic.

"IThe driver apparently lost control and overturned. The two bodies are being removed from the wreckage."

He said the 20 injured included 18 Britons, the tour guide and driver.

The bus was carrying 22 students and one member of staff from the Brooksby Melton College, in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, the college's marketing manager Anita Ladva said.

The group was on a field trip.

"At present the only details we have are that we are aware of an incident with our students on an organised trip.

"We have had no official confirmation of injuries or fatalities.

"We are working under the guidance of the trip organiser's crisis management services," she said.

Brooksby Melton College principal Chris Ball said tonight: "As you can imagine, we are all deeply shocked and our thoughts and concerns are for the students, their families and staff involved.

"We are working closely with Chameleon Worldwide to do everything we can to assist and would like to assure all our students and their parents and families that we will support them at this very difficult time."

The college tonight issued a new statement which said: "Brooksby Melton College regrets to confirm that a group of 18 adult students on a Foundation Degree in Animal Management and Welfare, and two teachers have been involved in a coach accident in South Africa during an organised trip this morning.

"We understand that there have been two fatalities. All other passengers have been taken to a local medical centre, where their condition is being assessed by doctors.

"We are working closely with the trip organisers, Chameleon Worldwide, who are doing everything possible to assist those involved and the South African authorities at this difficult time.

"An emergency number has been issued for relatives and anyone who believes that they may have family or friends involved. This number is 01962 737 634.

"Chameleon Worldwide and ourselves will issue a joint statement as soon as further information becomes available."

David Parsons, leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: "This is an appalling tragedy and our thoughts are with the relatives and families of the two young people.

"We are contacting the college to offer any help and support we can."

The students were on a field trip organised with Hampshire-based travel firm Chameleon Worldwide.

The accident happened a few miles from Barberton on the Bulembu road.

A British High Commission spokesman said: "We are aware of reports of a bus crash in Nelspruit.

"We are working very closely with the South Africa authorities to try to ascertain more details."

South Africa's roads are notoriously dangerous.

The casualties were understood to be suffering from a range of injuries, from a fractured spine to head and face lacerations.

Two men, aged 22 and 25, and a 30-year-old woman were being treated at the Nelspruit Medi Centre where they will stay overnight.

It is understood eight casualties were being transferred to the centre from the provincial hospital in Barberton.

Another three were being transferred from the medi clinic in Barberton.

Hospital spokeswoman Robin Baard said the casualties were still arriving.

She said: "Two of them were very seriously injured. One is in theatre now with internal injuries."

She said the four other patients she knew of had injuries including facial lacerations, broken ribs and collar bones.

She said the nature of the injuries meant plastic surgery would be necessary.

The casualties ranged in age from 19 to 25.

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.

"The latest information I have is that a small number have been injured. They are being treated in the Nelspruit area.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with the families and loved ones of those involved."

In a statement released shortly before 4pm UK time, she added: "I am leading a crisis team that is now on its way to Nelspruit. Our first priority is to visit the injured in hospital and get in touch with their families back home. We expect to arrive within the next two hours."

Capt Hlathi said police were investigating whether to bring any charges against the Zimbabwean bus driver.

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