2 killed, 20 injured in bus crash

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Tourists from Punjab were coming down from highland resort

GENTING HIGHLANDS: TWO tourists were killed while 20 others were injured when a tour bus carrying holiday-makers from Punjab, India, crashed into a divider and landed on its side while negotiating a bend  4.5km from the hill resort of Genting Highlands yesterday.Anita Aggarwal, 59, died at the scene while K. Rajindra, 67, died on the way to Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL).

The other passengers, including a 2-year-old child, were seriously injured and were sent to HKL and Selayang Hospital where at least four of the victims were listed as critical.

The tourists were in a chartered bus heading for Singapore when the driver lost control of the vehicle due to suspected brake failure and crashed into a divider, before landing on its side on the opposite lane.

Bentong police chief Superintendent Mohd Yusri Hassan Basri said the driver and co-driver, who suffered minor injuries, were arrested to facilitate investigations for reckless and dangerous driving.

He said the bus would be sent to Puspakom for checks to ascertain if mechanical fault was the cause of the accident.

Checks revealed that the tour bus company had proper documentation and operation permits.

Yusri said the accident occurred when the driver was negotiating a sharp bend while coming downhill at about 8am.

"He was tailing another bus carrying members of the same excursion when his brakes allegedly failed. In trying to avoid crashing into the first bus, the driver swerved to the right, crashing into a divider, before it landed on its side on the opposite lane."

Genting Highlands Fire and Rescue Department chief V. Ragunathan said when they arrived at the scene, the passengers were lying on the road and at least 10 of them were trapped in the wreckage.

The last victim was extricated from the wreckage at 9.20am in an operation involving some 60 personnel from the Genting, Bentong, Selayang, Kuala Kubu Baru and Wangsa Maju Fire and Rescue stations.

It was learnt that the tourists came to Malaysia five days ago for an eight-day trip. They had planned to go to Singapore yesterday after spending three days and two nights in Genting Highlands.

Indian High Commission spokesman Aseem Mahajan said they had set up a helpline for its nationals who were involved in the accident and their family members to seek information and help.

"We will do the necessary to ensure the victims and their loved ones are taken care of," he said, adding that the numbers to call were 603-2095 0154 and 012-2097952.

Resorts World Genting, in a statement issued yesterday, expressed its condolences to the families of the victims.

The resort's security and safety team, and police were at the accident site to assist the victims. They provided four ambulances and a van to send the victims to the hospitals.

The statement said the resort's officials were also sent to the hospitals to provide assistance to the victims.

Both roads, to and from the highlands, were opened to traffic several hours later.

Meanwhile at the HKL, its Emergency and Trauma Department chief, Datuk Seri Dr Abu Hassan Asaari Abdullah, said one semi-critical patient refused treatment until he had seen his wife and 2-year-old daughter.

"We had to take him to them and only after he saw that they were being taken care of, did he allow us to treat him.

"We have to counsel several victims who were traumatised. Being emotionally unstable could hinder their treatment."

Dr Abu Hassan said only 11 victims were admitted at HKL while nine others were being treated at the Selayang Hospital.

"Four are in critical condition but are responding well to treatment while others are in stable condition," he told reporters.

One of the victims, Simran Singh, 30, said everything happened very fast.

"I was chatting with my brother when the bus suddenly went out of control. Everyone started screaming and I was thrown out of my seat as the bus flipped," said Simran from Jaipur.

Another victim Kamlesh Sharma 48, said she was thankful that she and her husband escaped with only bruises.

The couple, like the rest in their group, arrived in Malaysia on Wednesday for their holiday here and in Singapore. Additional reporting by Beboshini Unni and SK Thanusha Devi

 

The tour bus after crashing into a divider and landing on its side 4.5km from Genting Highlands yesterday. Pic by Abdullah Yusof


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