File picture: Bram Janssen/AP Photo

Kampala - At least 19 staff members of a non-governmental organisation died and six were injured Tuesday when the bus they were travelling in lost control and hurtled off a cliff in eastern Uganda, police said.

"19 people have been confirmed dead and six others critically injured when the bus went off the cliff and crashed in the valley," regional police spokesman, Rogers Taitika told AFP Tuesday.

He said the bus was carrying staff with an American NGO who were on their way to the Kapchorwa region for their annual party when it crashed near Sipi, some 300 kilometres (186 miles) east of Kampala.

"We are investigating the matter to establish what could have caused the accident," Taitika said.

"The dead were identified to be staff of the NGO based in Kiryandongo and Masindi districts (southern Uganda)."

More details about the organisation and victims were not immediately available.

Uganda has one of the worst records for road safety, due to the poor condition of vehicles and roads as well as dangerous driving.

More than 9,500 people died in road accidents in the country between 2015 and 2017, according to figures from the transport ministry, with the situation worsening each year.

A UN report last year said 10 people die on Ugandan roads every day and that road accidents cost the country $1.2 billion (about one billion euros) -- or five percent of its Gross Domestic Product. 

In 2015, President Yoweri Museveni personally sacked 900 officials in charge of building and making roads, holding them accountable for the abysmal state of the network. 

AFP