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Narok - At least 17 people died on Tuesday after their bus plunged into a river in Kenya, local officials said.

According to authorities the driver lost control while trying to avoid a head-on collision with an oncoming vehicle.

The accident happened while the bus was travelling from western Homa Bay county to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya said more than 40 people were rushed to hospital for treatment.

He said the accident occurred after a person who was controlling traffic near the bridge the bus was travelling on sent a wrong signal.

Official statistics show that around 3,000 people die annually on Kenyan roads, but the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the figure could be four times higher.

In December 2016 more than 40 people died when an out-of-control fuel tanker ploughed into vehicles and then exploded on a busy stretch of highway. 

In December last year 36 people died in a head-on collision between a bus and a lorry on a road in central Kenya.

Deaths from road accidents commonly surge during the holiday period when people criss-cross the country visiting relatives.

AFP