NGCOBO - Seventeen people died on Wednesday in two separate bus crashes in Eastern Cape, just days before the Easter long weekend.
On Wednesday a Vaal Maseru bus, which was on its way from Welkom to various destinations in the Eastern Cape crashed in Ngcobo killing 13 people and seriously injuring 42 others.
The bus veered off the road,crashed into bushes and overturned less than than a km from the town of Ngcobo. Ten passengers and the bus driver were declared dead on the scene. When the bus wreckage was removed three more bodies were found underneath.
Three helicopters were used to evacuate the survivors. The injured were taken to various hospitals including the All Saints hospital at Ngcobo, Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha and Frere Hospital in East London
Eastern Cape Health Department spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo, said: "Seven people are critically injured, 18 are seriously injured and 17 are stable".
Police have opened an inquest docket for a case of culpable homicide.
In another incident late on Wednesday a Translux bus crashed along the N6 road between Komani (Queenstown) and Jamestown. Four passengers died and many others were injured.
It is not yet clear where the bus was heading and how the accident occurred.
The African National Congress (ANC) in the Eastern Cape expressed "deep sympathy" for the families who have lost their loved ones and called on government to investigate the cause of accident.
In a statement the ANC said: "We further wish to urge public transport operators to heed the appeal made to them by the Minister of Transport, to exercise extreme caution as we cannot continue putting the lives of innocent commuters at risk”.
African News Agency/ANA