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Monday, 25 December, 2000, 09:45 GMT
Christmas crash probed in SA
Transport Minister Omar Dullah
Omar Dullah: Road conditions were good
The South African Transport Minister, Dullah Omar, has announced an official investigation into a bus crash which killed 20 people, including six children, as they were travelling home for Christmas.


When it came to rest there were people screaming everywhere... This is not what Christmas is supposed to bring

Nomadi Lusuti, survivor

More than 50 others on board were injured, when the vehicle plunged off a mountain pass 60km (37 miles) north of the city of East London, in the Eastern Cape province.

Police said the driver lost control as the bus rounded a bend on a steep stretch of road known as the Kei Cutting pass, and the vehicle 30m down an embankment.

Rescuers used heavy machinery to pry the bus open, and spent three hours freeing the injured from the wreck.

Bad record

Nomadi Lusuti, aged 20, one of two passengers who escaped unhurt, said she was asleep when the bus veered off the road.

"I was woken by the sound of people screaming and loud noises as the bus plunged down the embankment," she said.

"When it came to rest there were people screaming everywhere... This is not what Christmas is supposed to bring."

One of the dead was a three-year-old girl found clutching her Christmas present.

The Kei Cuttings pass has been the scene of several fatal bus accidents.

A crash two months ago near Sunday's accident killed 19 people.

'Good' road

However, Mr Dullah said the accident did not take place at the most notorious section of the road.

"What is sad is that the road conditions are not bad, it is a good road," he said.

The accident pushed the death toll on South African roads since the start of summer holidays on 1 December to 564.

Speeding and drunken driving are commonplace, and many passengers do not wear seat belts.

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