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Death toll in Tunisia bus accident rises to 26

At least 26 people were killed when their bus crashed into a barrier on a mountain road and careered into a ravine in northwest Tunisia, officials said Monday.

Forensic experts are investigating the causes of the crash
Forensic experts are investigating the causes of the crash

The health ministry said that 17 people were also injured in Sunday’s accident in a mountainous region popular with Tunisian tourists.

The accident was one of the deadliest ever in a country whose poor road safety record has sparked criticism of officials.

All those aboard the bus were Tunisian, the ministry said.

The age of the vehicle, more than 20 years old, and speeding were the suspected causes, a minister, Noureddine Selmi, told state television after an initial investigation.

The bus had set off from Tunis towards the picturesque northern mountain town of Ain Draham, a popular autumn destination for domestic visitors.

The interior ministry had initially reported the deaths of 22 out of the 43 people on board, saying the bus had “fallen into a ravine after crashing through an iron barrier”.

The health ministry said four more passengers had died of their injuries.

An AFP team who visited the site saw the twisted remains of the bus in the ravine near a river bed, surrounded by scattered bodies.

The top of the bus appeared to have been torn off and seats were strewn across the site.

President Kais Saied and outgoing Prime Minister Youssef Chahed both visited the site hours after the tragedy.

Tunisia’s poorly-maintained roads have a reputation for being deadly. Almost 1,100 people died in traffic accidents in 2018, according to a national observatory on road security.

The World Health Organization in 2015 reported that Tunisia had the second-worst road death rate per capita in North Africa, behind only war-torn Libya.

Sunday’s accident triggered renewed public anger over what one social media user called the country’s “roads of death”. AFP