|Malaysia has the highest rate of traffic accident fatalities in Southeast Asia [Reuters]|
A double-decker bus carrying Thai tourists overturned on a Malaysian highway on Monday, killing 28 people on their way back from a hill resort in the country’s worst road accident in years.
The tourists were heading to Kuala Lumpur after a weekend trip to the popular Cameron Highlands in central Malaysia when their bus spun out of control and crashed into a protective barrier, a district police official said.
The bus then flipped over and landed beside a rocky slope, he said.
Photographs of the site showed the wrecked bus in a shallow ditch, with its tyres and passengers’ belongings scattered around. Bodies covered with black sheets were placed beside the road.
The accident may have been caused by speeding or brake failure, the official said.
Rescuers recovered 22 bodies, and another six people died after being taken to a hospital, he said. About a dozen other passengers were injured.
The bus was reportedly operated by San Holiday Express, a Malaysian-based tour company.
Its managing director, Sor Eng Hock, told Bernama, Malaysia’s national news agency, he was “very shocked [and] sad,” adding that the company had never been involved in a major accident.
Malaysian highways have a speed limit of 110km per hour, but speeding is common and many drivers often do not abide by traffic laws.
Many bus accidents have been blamed on companies that hire poorly trained or unlicensed drivers, some of whom reportedly use drugs to keep them awake.
Those killed in Monday’s crash included three Malaysians – the bus driver, his assistant and a tour guide – the police official said. The rest were Thai.
Malaysia’s worst previous bus crash was in 2007, when an express bus hit some boulders at a highway, killing 22.
Malaysia has the highest rate of road traffic fatalities in Southeast Asia, with 23.6 deaths per 100 thousand people.