At least 24 people die in a bus accident in northwest Tunisia

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — At least 24 Tunisians were killed on Sunday when a bus plunged into a ravine in a mountainous northwestern region attracting local tourists, a road accident that is one of the worst disasters of its kind in the country’s history.

According to the provisional toll of the Ministry of Health, 24 people died in the incident and 18 others were injured, all Tunisians. The Interior Ministry had earlier put the death toll at 22 dead and 21 injured.

Although the exact circumstances of the incident are not yet known, the first scenes and the toll have sparked panic among people and criticized the government.

President of the Republic Qais Said and caretaker Prime Minister Yusuf al-Shahid went to the scene of the tragedy.

According to the Interior Ministry, the bus belonging to a local tourism agency was traveling from Tunis to the mountainous city of Ain Draham (northwest), when it went off the road at the level of Ain Snoussi.

The victims were aged between 20 and 30, according to the ministries of health and tourism.

In all, there were 43 people on the bus, which “fell into a ravine after crossing an iron barrier,” the interior ministry said.

The wounded were rushed to hospitals in the area and in the capital.

Scenes of the incident were aired on local radio websites and widely circulated on social media.

The bodies showed scattered on the ground and a bus shattered completely. In other scenes, the bodies of young men appeared in costumes and sneakers.

Upon arrival at the scene, AFP correspondents saw scattered chairs, traces of blood, sneakers and special-purpose items scattered in the course of a small valley below the road.

Scientific police were seen at the scene.

– “Ways of Death” –

Tourism Minister Ronnie Trabelsi told private radio there was an “unfortunate accident in a difficult area” and said the bus had fallen into a “bad zig”.

On the national channel, an official in the National Protection confirmed that the same place had witnessed many traffic accidents in the past.

Internet pioneers expressed outrage after the “national disaster” denouncing Tunisia’s “ways of death”.

The mountainous region of Ain Draham, close to the border with Algeria, is a popular recreation destination.

Tunisians visit it in large numbers during this period of the year. However, many of its infrastructure suffers from deficiencies, especially its neglected roads.

The death rate on the roads in Tunisia, which is 11 million people, is high because of poor infrastructure, but also because of the aging of the fleet of vehicles on the one hand and the prevalence of lack of urbanization and respect for the law of drivers.

At the end of April 2019, 12 people, including seven women who were in the back of a light truck, died in a road accident in Sibala in central Sidi Bouzid, one of the country’s marginalized areas. The victims were aged between 18 and 30.

At the end of August 2016, at least 16 people died and 85 others were injured in Kasserine in the west of the country after a truck collided with a brake failure, with a public bus and 15 cars.

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