What caused a bus to veer off a mountain road in northern Tanzania on Saturday, May 6, killing almost everyone on board?
Witnesses report that the bus, which was in a convoy of vehicles carrying children from Lucky Vincent primary school to mock exams, ‘catapulted‘ nose-first into a ravine at Rhotia Hills near Karatu.
A total of 32 children died, along with 2 teachers and the driver.
Two children are reported to be in critical condition in Arusha.
The accident may have been caused by brake failure, says the Arusha regional police commander; others blame the deceased driver for not having ‘knowledge of the road’ as there is a ‘slight slope and a corner.’
The ‘devastating’ tragedy is a wakeup call for motorists and passengers to take road safety into their own hands, says Tom Bishop, deputy director at Amend, a traffic safety organization in Dar.
“There are still too many drivers driving recklessly, and too many vehicles in dangerous condition,” says Bishop.
“Drivers carrying children, and other road users when passing children walking on the road, must realise that they are responsible for the future of Tanzania – our children.”
As condolences continue to pour in on social media, several voiced their frustrations with the lack of responsible driving habits.
“Too often people’s approach is so fatalistic … where by instead we should realize that we are in the hands of the driver, and if he/she drives like a crazy lunatic we should tell him to slow down,” writes one.
“People actually laugh because they think you’re crazy or they get mad at you for asking the driver to slow down! And then when an accident happens everyone’s shocked,” says another.
Officially, 3,600 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2015, which means Tanzania has the fifth highest road fatality rates on the continent.
But the World Health Organization (WHO) says road death data for Tanzania may be grossly under-reported by as much as 400 percent.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of the story stated 33 children died, as per the Arusha regional police commander. That information was incorrect and has been reduced to 32.