Road crash in Ghazni leaves at least 73 dead


At least 73 people were killed and 53 were injured on Sunday when two passenger buses and an oil tanker burst into flames following a head-on collision in eastern Afghanistan, health officials said, in one of the worst road accidents in the war-battered nation.

Many of the dead, including women and children, were burned beyond recognition and dozens of others were left badly injured in the accident in Ghazni province, one of the areas worst affected by the Taliban insurgency.

The vehicles were completely gutted and clouds of acrid smoke shrouded the scene of the crash on the Kabul-Kandahar highway, a major roadway linking Afghanistan’s two largest cities. “The death toll has soared to 73,” ministry spokesperson Ismail Kawoosi told media, warning that the toll was expected to rise further still. “Most of them are completely burned.”

Kawoosi gave a sharply higher toll than other officials.

Ghazni’s Governor Mohammad Aman Hamimi earlier reported seven fatalities but his own spokesperson Jawid Salangi put the toll at 50.

Salangi said two buses were carrying some 125 passengers from Kabul to Kandahar when they crashed into the tanker, which was travelling in the opposite direction, setting off a fire that quickly engulfed all three vehicles.

Bloodied, dazed and badly burned, many of the survivors streamed into Ghazni’s main provincial hospital, while many others were rushed in ambulances to health facilities in southern Kandahar city.

The Kabul-Kandahar highway passes through militancy prone areas and many bus drivers are known to drive recklessly at top speeds so as not to get caught in insurgent activity. “Our driver was at fault — he was driving too rashly,” said Esmatullah, one of the few lucky passengers who survived the crash with minor injuries.