13 killed as tour bus overturns in Cameron Highlands

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13 killed as tour bus overturns in Cameron Highlands

Postby admin » Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:09 am

IPOH: Thirteen passengers of a tour bus were killed after the vehicle hit a divider and overturned on its way down from Cameron Highlands Monday.

A Fire and Rescue Department spokesman said the incident occurred at about 11.45am in Pos Slim, about 5km from Simpang Pulai.

"Rescue efforts are still on-going. We believe at least 14 people died," he said.

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27 killed in Camerons crash

Postby admin » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:03 am

Thai holidaymakers die after bus hit divider and overturned

IPOH: Twenty-seven people were killed when their bus hit a divider and overturned on its way down from Cameron Highlands in what is possibly the worst road accident in Malaysian history.

The tragedy at KM15 of the Cameron Highland-Simpang Pulai road claimed the lives of 25 Thai nationals who had been on a holiday in the hill resort.

Perak deputy police chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Zakaria Yusof said the other two casualties were driver Omar Shahidan, 48, and tour guide Soontorn Kian, 38. Both were Malaysians.

“There were a total of 37 people onboard at the time, 34 were Thai holidaymakers from Bangkok and three others Malaysians,” he said.

The double-decker bus was heading from Cameron Highlands towards Kuala Lumpur at 11.40am yesterday.

“The driver was trying to negotiate a sharp bend but failed, causing the bus to hit a divider before overturning.

“The bus landed on its roof in a ditch about 51m away from the divider,” SAC Zakaria said.

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He said the impact of the crash was so severe that bodies were flung several metres away from the wreckage while others were trapped deep in the mangled vehicle.

Twenty-two of the victims were killed on the spot. Five others died after being rushed to the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital here.

SAC Zakaria said the cause of the accident could have been due to speeding or technical failure of the brakes.

It took about 100 personnel from the police, Fire and Rescue Department, Civil Defence Department and Public Works Department over three hours to retrieve the bodies.

The wreckage was finally towed downhill at about 4pm, causing massive jams on both sides of the road as far as 5km away.

It is learnt that of the 10 survivors, one was discharged after being treated for minor injuries; three were undergoing surgery and the rest warded as at 7pm.

SAC Zakaria said the bus was heading to Kuala Lumpur where the Thais were believed to have been scheduled to fly back to Bangkok.

The Cameron Highland-Simpang Pulai Road, which has many curves and gradients, was opened to traffic in 2003.

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Locals and visitors express disbelief over accident

Postby admin » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:04 am

IPOH: Bus driver Omar Shahidan, who was killed in the accident, was a careful driver, said a relative.

Aswadi Baharuddin, 31, denied that Omar was a “speed demon”.

“He was a careful driver,” Aswadi said at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital mortuary here last night.

He said Omar had recently taken his family on a trip to Hadyai. Omar will be buried at Taman Tok Sri Manis in Kangar today.

Meanwhile, Cameron Highland Vegetable Farmers Association secretary Chay Ee Mong said he was shocked as the area of the accident had clear signage warning motorists of danger.

“There are yellow lines to warn motorists of the sharp bends,” said Chay, adding that several accidents had taken place there prior to 2004.

However, after 2004, the number of accidents was reduced when the divider and speed limit signs were put up.

Chay believed that the weight of the double-decker bus could have been a factor in the crash while the vehicle was negotiating the bend.

Bank officer Chang Kok Khan said speed bumps should be erected whenever there was a bend to prevent vehicles from speeding.

“Motorists are known to speed downhill,” said the 29-year-old Chang, who is a regular at the resort during the school holidays.

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Miros to look into cause of crash

Postby admin » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:04 am

IPOH: The Malaysian Institute of Road Safety (Miros) has been tasked with reconstructing the double-decker bus accident to determine how it occurred.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha, who visited the scene of the crash yesterday evening, said Miros would gather information from the police, Road Transport Department and the Fire and Rescue Department.

”We cannot be certain what caused the accident. Only Miros can carry out an in-depth analysis and determine if it had been the road condition or a technical fault of the bus,” he said.

Kong urged witnesses to come forward and assist the police with investigation in the tragedy, which he said was the worst in Malaysian history.

The last major bus accident which occurred in Bukit Gantang, near Taiping, Perak, three years ago saw the loss of 22 lives.

Kong said the investigating team would try and interview the crash survivors but priority should be given to treating them first.

Kong said the bus operator company, Syarikat Bas SK Murni Tours and Travels, was registered in Jitra, Kedah and owned about 10 buses and a van.

Kong said Puspakom had inspected the bus company’s vehicles last month.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Ministry said it was investigating the bus company.

The Ministry said that whether the company’s tour bus licence was suspended or revoked would depend on the investigation by all the agencies involved.

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Grief-stricken man finds ‘dead’ mum and cousin alive

Postby admin » Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:30 am

IPOH: Anusorn Sukhumalsakul arrived here from Bangkok for a grim and heartbreaking task – to claim the bodies of his mother and cousin who, he was told, had been killed in a horrific accident on the Cameron Highlands-Simpang Pulai road.

His grief turned to joy when he was told that both his mother Darunee Songserm and cousin Areena Songserm were alive and being treated at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital here.

It turned out the authorities had mixed up the names of the deceased earlier due to difficulties in identifying the bodies of the victims, some of which were beyond recognition.

“It feels like my mother has been given a second chance. We will continue to pray for her recovery,” said a happy Anusorn, 40, who was at the hospital with several relatives.

The family found out that 59-year-old Darunee was being treated at the hospital’s intensive care unit for serious head and chest injuries while Areena, 20, was being warded for observation after suffering slight injuries to her head.

The bodies initially thought to be that of Darunee and Areena were later identified as those of Malee Boon Thun, 36, and Uraiwan Laddaklom, 61.

Areena’s mother, Senah Songserm, 52, was relieved that her daughter survived the terrible accident.

“My sister told me about the crash on Monday night,” said the food operator from Songkhla.

“We were initially told that Areena had died but kept on praying that it wasn’t true,” she said, adding that Areena had only obtained her passport on the eve of her trip to Malaysia on Dec 18.

In the nation’s worst road accident at the 15th km of the Cameron Highlands-Simpang Pulai road on Monday, 25 Thai nationals and their Malaysian driver and tour guide were killed when the high-decked bus they were in crashed into a divider, overturned and landed on its roof.

The impact of the crash was so great that the vehicle skidded 51m away and ended up in a ditch, killing 22 of those onboard on the spot. Five others died at the hospital here.

The group of holidaymakers was heading from the highland resort towards Kuala Lumpur where they were due to catch a flight back to Bangkok.

A hospital official did not deny that there could have been errors in the initial list of names released on Monday following the crash.

“The names released were based on a list received from the bus company,” he said.

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Experts: High-decked bus unsuitable for highlands

Postby admin » Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:34 am

PETALING JAYA: The bus involved in the horrific accident along the Cameron Highlands-Simpang Pulai road which killed 27 people was to be used only for city tours, not for long-distance travels, especially those involving hilly terrain, experts say.

They said high-decked buses were unsuitable for travelling uphill as the centre of gravity was higher, making such vehicles very unstable.

Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) vehicle safety and engineering division director Dr Wong Shaw Voon said such buses were only meant for city tours, like the famous ones used in London.

“The bus can become unstable when going uphill or when travelling at a higher speed. This is especially when drivers negotiate sharp bends,” he said.

Dr Wong, commenting on investigations into the horrific accident on Monday, said Miros was looking into the design of the bus, overloading of passengers on the upper deck, the concrete barrier of the road and other factors.

“The accident site was known as a black spot area,” said Dr Wong, adding that more signboards were needed to alert drivers.

He said all the passengers of the ill-fated bus were seated in the upper deck, adding: “This can result in instability and the centre of gravity is out.”

The lower deck, he said, was designed as a conference room and was filled with the passengers’ luggage.

Asked if such a vehicle was allowed to travel uphill, Dr Wong said: “A high-decked bus is more stable if its centre of gravity is lower.”

Road Safety Department director-general Datuk Suret Singh said an initial study by Miros showed that the ill-fated bus was a 1.5 decker where its design was “within the safety specifications”.

Miros director-general Prof Dr Ahmad Farhan Mohd Sadullah said such vehicles should only travel on flat road surfaces and that bus operators should take the suitability and condition of buses into consideration before ferrying passengers around.

State Public Works Departments director Datuk Dr Safry Kamal said high-decked buses should not be driven on hilly terrains.

He added that they could easily topple over due to their high centre of gravity.

A review, he said, should be conducted on allowing such vehicles on highlands.

A check at the accident site yesterday showed that debris from the crash had not yet been cleared. The roof of the bus was still in the ditch where it landed along with the metal debris from the wreckage.

The police, Public Works Depart­ment, Road Transport Department and Miros personnel were at the scene to gather information on the crash.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said initial findings showed that the ill-fated bus had only one driver instead of two.

“The site is also a black spot. A lorry was involved in a road accident just a few kilometres away about 10 days ago,’’ he said, adding that the investigations into the incident are expected to be completed in 10 days’ time.

Kong also said that there was no law to prohibit high-decked buses from travelling uphill.

Meanwhile, SK Murni Tours & Travel Sdn Bhd denied that the San Express Holiday (SEH) tour bus, bearing registration number AFX 2266, belonged to the company.

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Permit allows for 19 seats, but capacity increased to 40

Postby admin » Thu Dec 23, 2010 1:09 am

PETALING JAYA: The high-decked bus involved in the Cameron Highlands tragedy was modified to double its seating capacity.

The bus had 19 seats but its capacity was increased to 40, according to a source close to a team set up in the aftermath of the crash to determine what had caused it.

The team comprises several agencies including Miros, Puspakom, police and the Road Transport Department (JPJ).

This is what has been established by the team to date – the upper deck had been modified and had about 30 seats while the lower deck, which was to have only a lounge, had several more seats.

It is understood that the team checked the wreckage on Tuesday night and noticed the modifications.

“We still have to determine the exact number of extra seats added in the upper and lower decks,” the source said.

The source said the changes were a violation of the permit issued for the vehicle.

The permit issued by the JPJ states that the vehicle should only have 19 seats.

“If the bus operator wants to modify the structure or put additional seats in the bus, it should submit a new structure plan of the bus to the JPJ for approval,” the source said.

The source said checks showed that the bus was inspected regularly by Puspakom, since it was registered in 2007.

When Puspakom inspects a commercial vehicle, the first thing checked is the vehicle’s chassis number.

The source said Puspakom would also check the vehicle’s undercarriage including its brake system, axles and flooring.

The source said the badly damaged front axle of the ill-fated bus was very likely due to instability brought about by passenger overloading.

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First there was smoke, then driver lost control

Postby admin » Thu Dec 23, 2010 11:19 am

IPOH: The driver of the tour bus was seen frantically trying to control the vehicle moments before ramming through a concrete divider and landing on the side.

A few survivors, in relating their experience at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital here yesterday, also said there was a burning smell and smoke was coming out from the rear of the bus before the crash.

"Around 40 minutes before the accident, I could smell something burning. Later, I heard a screeching sound in the bus. The driver (Omar Shahidan) was trying his best to control the bus before it crashed into the concrete divider.

"After the accident, I crawled out of the wreck and saw bodies covered in blood lying on the road.

"The only thing I could think of then was to look for my aunt, who was flung out of the bus. I found her lying next to the bus driver," said Areena Songserm.

The 20-year-old tourist and hotel management student of Walailak University said her 35-member tour group arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport from Bangkok on Saturday before heading to Cameron Highlands the next day.

Pramualrat Phimpahu, 44, from Bangkok, also said the driver was struggling to control the bus moments before the crash.

"I saw smoke coming out of the bus and lost consciousness when the crash occurred," she said.

As for Chuchart Klungsuwan, 48, who sustained fractured ribs and injuries to his lungs, everything happened "very fast".

"I feel as if I am dreaming and details of the accident are still blurry. I was seated by the window and my wife was sitting next to me. All I remembered was the bus suddenly going fast and everyone was screaming. I was thrown out of the bus and passed out," he said.

Another survivor, Achara Wiwat, 36, also said everything happened in a flash.

"It was like a nightmare. I was asleep when the accident occurred and only regained consciousness in hospital."

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Human error blamed in fatal bus crash

Postby admin » Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:20 am

IPOH: An accident involving a high-decked bus that crashed on its way down from Cameron Highlands last month is due to human error and not caused by an oil spill on the road as speculated earlier.

State Infrastructure Committee chairman Datuk Ramly Zahari said police investigations showed human error was the reason for the crash which killed 28 people.

“Claims that the accident was caused by an oil spill on the road are just assumptions,” he told reporters after visiting the accident site near here yesterday.

He said although the accident was caused by human error, the state government would improve the physical condition of the road at the accident site.

“We will be asking the state government to approve another RM200,000 to enhance the safety aspect at the road which would include widening a 100m stretch,” he said.

“A groove will also be built before the accident site to warn motorists to slow down,” Ramly said.

He added that the works would be completed in a month.

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