At least 37 people died in the Ivory Coast after a bus went off a bridge in the city of Abidjan, plunging into the lagoon below, a source in the interior ministry said Saturday. The official death toll has not been released.
AFP – At least 37 people died after a bus veered off a bridge in Ivory Coast's economic capital Abidjan and plunged into the lagoon below early Friday, an interior ministry source said.
Authorities have not released an official death toll but according to the source there were at least "37 deaths" and "nine survivors", all of whom were hospitalised.
An AFP photographer saw at least 20 bodies, mainly women and young people, being recovered from the water beneath the Felix Houphouet-Boigny bridge.
Rescue workers used a crane to pull the bus out of the river.
The accident at such a key access point into the city -- it is one of Abijdan's two bridges -- caused massive traffic jams.
But rescuers said they had also saved some of the passengers.
President Alassane Ouattara, who went to meet victims' families at the scene with Prime Minister Guillaume Soro and other ministers, decreed three days of national mourning from Saturday.
He also called for an inquiry to report back as soon as possible to establish what had caused the accident.
Witnesses said the public bus had been overcrowded. A badly burnt car was also at the scene, suggested there may have been a collision.
Ivorian security forces and members of the United Nations peacekeeping force also attended the scene to help the rescue services.
Road accidents are common in Abidjan due to poorly maintained vehicles and bad roads. In recent weeks, roadworks have been begun at several major junctions in the city.
Date created : 2011-08-06