37 dead, death toll expected to rise after Malaysia bus careens in ravine
By Julia Zappei, AFPKUALA LUMPUR--At least 37 people are confirmed dead and the toll was expected to climb after a bus plunged into a deep Malaysian ravine Wednesday in one of the country's worst-ever road accidents.
August 22, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
Authorities said the bus was carrying 53 passengers when it went off a swerving road and plunged down a steep 70-metre (200-foot) slope in the Genting Highlands, famed for a flashy gambling and entertainment resort about an hour's drive from the capital Kuala Lumpur.
“Thirty-seven are dead — 13 women and 24 men,” Christopher Chong, a fire official at the scene, told AFP by phone.
Chong said the bus was heading downhill when the driver apparently lost control on a bend. The driver was among those killed, reports said.
Reports said most of the passengers were Malaysians, but staff at Hospital Kuala Lumpur said the injured brought in from the crash included a Thai man and a Bangladeshi man.
Local hospitals said several of the injured arrived in critical condition.
Lines of rescuers clinging to an orange rope for support were seen pulling injured victims out of the bus, which was lying on its side in thick vegetation.
Amateur photos posted on the Internet also showed damage to the road's concrete embankment, suggesting the bus had smashed through the barrier.
Police said the bus was part of a regular line that ferries visitors between the capital and the hill resort.
The resort, whose bright lights can be seen from the city at night, is operated by Malaysian gaming firm Genting, one of the country's largest companies.
Genting Highlands includes the country's sole casino and attracts more than 20 million visitors per year.
It is currently undergoing a reportedly 3-billion-ringgit (US$900 million) refurbishment that includes a Twentieth Century Fox theme park set to open in 2016.
The road leading up the Genting Highlands is notoriously steep and winding.
Two Indian tourists died and 22 other people were hurt when their bus overturned in the area last year.
The country's deadliest road transport tragedy was a bus accident in 2010 in the Cameron Highlands, another hill resort area.
That accident killed 27.
Muslim-majority Malaysia has banned gambling but allows non-Muslims to bet at the casino in the Genting Highlands, as well as on horse-racing and private lotteries.