At least 40 people have been killed and 87 injured after two buses collided near Kaffrine in central Senegal.
The accident took place on the Number 1 national road at 3:15am (03:15 GMT) on Sunday.
President Macky Sall said 40 people were killed in the “grave” accident and announced three days of national mourning.
The bus, with a 60-seat capacity, was heading to Rosso near the border with Mauritania, the fire brigade said, adding that the number of people on board was unknown.
“It was a serious accident,” Colonel Cheikh Fall, head of operations at the National Fire Brigade, told AFP news agency, adding that 87 people had been injured in the incident.
Victims were taken to a hospital and medical centre in Kaffrine, he said. The wreckage and demolished buses have since been cleared and normal traffic has resumed, said Fall.
Public Prosecutor Cheikh Dieng said early investigations suggested that the accident happened when “a bus assigned to the public transport of passengers, following the bursting of a tyre, left its trajectory before colliding head-on with another bus coming in the opposite direction”.
Suite au grave accident de ce jour à Gniby ayant causé 40 morts, j’ai décidé d’un deuil national de 3 jours à compter du 9 janvier. Un conseil interministériel se tiendra à la même date pour la prise de mesures fermes sur la sécurité routière et le transport public des voyageurs.
— Macky Sall (@Macky_Sall) January 8, 2023
“I am deeply saddened by the tragic road accident,” President Sall said on Twitter. “I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” he added.
This is one of the heaviest death tolls from a single incident in recent years in a country where road accidents are common largely because of a lack of driver discipline, poor roads and decrepit vehicles, according to experts.
In October 2020, at least 16 people were killed and 15 more injured when a bus collided with a refrigerated lorry in western Senegal. Local media said at the time that the lorry was hauling fish to Dakar.