After what was described as a horrific accident on the N1 in Limpopo on Tuesday, 17 people had been declared dead by late yesterday, while eight others escaped with injuries.
The blaze in which many passengers died was caused by a head-on collision between a 22-seater Iveco bus and a Toyota SUV on the N1 near the Mookgophong off-ramp.
Of the 17 dead, 16 burnt to death when the bus in which they were travelling, burst into flames following the crash. The driver of the SUV died instantly.
A spokesperson for the Limpopo Department of Community Safety, Mike Maringa, said the accident happened after the driver of the SUV allegedly lost control of the vehicle due a tyre burst and collided head-on with the bus.
He said: ““The bus burst into flames and 16 occupants were trapped inside, including the driver, who were burnt to death.
“The driver of the SUV was also killed on impact. Eight people survived. Six are seriously injured and two escaped with minor injuries.”
It is believed the bus was heading to Polokwane from Bosman station in Pretoria.
“Their identities are still being withheld pending investigations and (while we are informing) their next of kin. Six of the eight people who were admitted at FH Odendaal Hospital have since been checked and discharged.”
Maringa said the dead were taken to forensic mortuaries in Belabela and Mokopane.
“Preliminary investigations are citing tyre burst as a possible cause of the accident, and investigations are continuing. A case of culpable homicide has been opened,” he added.
Accidents in the province have been at their peak since the conclusion of the December holidays.
Early on Saturday, three people were killed and one escaped with serious injuries after a head-on crash involving a VW Polo and a VW sedan on the D3110 road at Mokurwenyane village outside Lephalale in Waterberg.
Maringa said it was alleged that the driver of a Golf was trying to overtake and collided with the oncoming Polo.
Transport and Community Safety MEC Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya said: “I am once again pleading with motorists to inspect their vehicles before they get onto the road.”