Thursday, August 22, 2013

Genting bus tragedy 37 killed Bus was on JPJ blacklist before Genting crash

The ill-fated bus that plunged into a ravine yesterday and killed 37 people was placed on a blacklist with the Road Transport Department (JPJ) prior to its journey to Genting Highlands.

English daily The Star reported that this was confirmed from checks on the bus’ records in the JPJ website. It is not known, however, the reason for the blacklist.

According to the daily, Bentong OCPD Supt Mansor Mohd Noor revealed that the bus belonged to Genting Highlands Transport Sdn Bhd, a KL-based firm.

The paper also quoted a spokesperson for Genting Malaysia Berhad as saying that the vehicle is a public transport bus.

“It is not ours,” the spokesman said, before offering condolences to the families of the dead and accident victims.

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In a tragedy that has been described as the worst in Malaysian history so far, the overloaded tour bus plunged some 70 metres down a ravine near the Chin Swee Temple on its journey back to KL from the popular tourist hotspot.

Of the 53 passengers in the 44-passenger-capacity bus, 37 were killed while 16 escaped with their lives, many with serious injuries.

The dead comprised 24 men and 13 women.

Authorities noted yesterday that over half of the passengers were foreigners from China, Bangladesh and Thailand and that the bus had exceeded its maximum capacity of 44 passengers.

It is understood that the bus driver, who was among the fatalities, had lost control of the vehicle while going downhill en route to Kuala Lumpur, ramming into a divider before the fatal plunge some 2km from the temple.

Since the crash, there has been an outpouring of sympathy from Malaysians nationwide, including political leaders and the general public.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak expressed his condolences in a Twitter posting last night and said he hoped all agencies and teams involved in rescue efforts would give their best.

In a short statement yesterday, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim wished speedy recovery to the survivors of the crash.

“Our hearts go out to the relatives and loved ones of those who perished in this terrible tragedy.

“The authorities and those responsible must step up safety measures to prevent such tragedies in the future,” he said.

Road fatalities involving express buses have been a recurrent issue in Malaysia.

The previous record for the highest fatalities was on December 20, 2010 when another express bus, on its way down from Cameron Highlands, hit a divider and overturned, killing 27 people onboard, including the driver.

A year before that, 10 people died on December 26 when the north-bound bus they were in crashed into the guardrail at the Ipoh toll plaza.

Another 10 died on December 7, 2008 when their express bus skidded and overturned in Pagoh, Johor.

Another incident with high fatalities happened on August 13, 2007 when 22 people, including the driver, died when the express bus they were travelling in crashed near the Bukit Gantang, Perak rest area on the North-South Expressway.

More recently, a teacher and three students were killed on November 11, 2011 when their chartered bus collided with a tanker while they were on their way up Genting Highlands from Kulim, Kedah.

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