Nearly 60 people were killed early Monday on the road from the South Sudan capital, Juba, to the border town of Nimule when a passenger bus crashed head-on with a truck carrying goods from Uganda.
Officials said the crash happened on a bridge just outside Juba. A traffic policeman said the truck was driving on the wrong side of the road when it smashed into the bus.
The bodies of the victims, and some 13 people who were injured in the crash, were taken to Juba Teaching Hospital, where the dead were placed in the mortuary.
Dr. Xaviour Okadi, who works in the surgical unit at the hospital, said a total of 56 bodies were received at the hospital.
“Most of them are foreigners from Uganda. South Sudanese citizens, I think, are something like 15,” Okadi said.
Bodies piled on each other
Inside the hospital mortuary, dozens of dead bodies were piled one on top of the other. Still more bodies were spread out on the floor.
“We are treating the bodies and we are giving them back to the owners because the mortuary is small,” Okadi said.
Okadi said most of the dead were traders. The drivers of both vehicles also died in the accident.
A traffic policeman who helped transport victims to the hospital and tended to the few who survived said the crash happened at around 7:00 a.m. on a bridge around 25 kilometers outside Juba.
The officer, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak, said a passenger bus operated by Bakulu Coaches was travelling from Juba to Kampala when it collided with a truck from Uganda. The two vehicles were entering a bridge from opposite directions when the accident occurred, the officer said. He said the truck was driving on the wrong side of the road. Ugandans drive on the left in their country, but, in South Sudan, traffic uses the right-hand lane.
The officer said 13 people were injured in the accident. Most, if not all of them, were sitting at the back of the bus.
Traffic officials say there have been several fatal accidents along the Juba- Nimule road since it was paved three years ago. This is the third time this year that a Bakulu Coaches bus has been involved in a deadly accident along the road, which is considered the most dangerous in South Sudan.