CRADOCK, SOUTH AFRICA (BNO NEWS) -- A school bus collided head-on with a minibus in the southern region of South Africa on Saturday, killing eighteen people and injuring more than 30 others, emergency officials said on Sunday. The cause was not immediately known.
The accident occurred on the R61 road between the towns of Cradock and Graaf-Reinet, located in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, when a school bus slammed into a Mercedes Benz Sprinter bus. The school bus was carrying dozens of children to a rugby match in Graaf-Reinet while the minibus was carrying passengers from Cape Town to Mthatha.
Emergency officials said sixteen people died at the scene while two others later succumbed to their injuries. Two of the fatalities were said to be children, but their ages were not immediately released. Thirty-one others were injured, including fourteen people who remained in a serious or critical condition on Sunday.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost their loved ones in this tragedy. We also wish those injured a speedy recovery so that they can reunite with their families at home," South African President Jacob Zuma said following the accident. He also called on law enforcement agencies to conduct necessary investigations and ensure that negligence on anyone's part is punished to the full extent of the law.
Police said the cause of the accident was not immediately known. "We urge our traffic law enforcement officers to leave no stone unturned in their investigation of this crash," Deputy Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga said. "In just the past three weeks, more than 50 people have died on South Africa's roads as a result of tragic crashes."
The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), an agency of the Department of Transport, dispatched a team of road crash and incident reconstruction specialists to the scene to establish the exact cause of Saturday's deadly accident.
Despite good infrastructure, roads in South Africa are considered to be among the world's most dangerous, with more than 13,000 people killed every year. Many accidents are attributed to reckless driving, speeding, drunk driving, fatigue, and the poor maintenance of buses and taxis.
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