7 Bruneians die in Sabah accident

The tourist bus from Brunei reduced to mangled irons after crashing into a tree at Kilometre 8.9 Ranau-Tamparuli Road in Sabah.

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - Seven Bruneians were killed in a road accident in Tamparuli, Sabah after the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree yesterday at 3pm.

An informed Bruneian source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Brunei Times that 33 identified passengers were involved in the crash, resulting in six initial fatalities. A seventh, male victim was confirmed dead just before 1am today, the informed source said.

Some survivors were reported to be in critical condition, while others sustained minor injuries.

Malaysian paper New Straits Times reported that the bus, which was travelling from Tawau, crashed into a tree on a downhill stretch near Kg Koporingan in Tamparuli after the driver lost control of the vehicle.

The paper reported that the bus rolled twice on the road and grazed a tourist bus in the opposite direction before it came to a stop about 30m away. Due to strong impact of the crash, the roofing of the bus was ripped partially, it was reported.

The group arrived in Sabah on December 16 bound for Tawau, where they had spent the night on Monday. They were on their way back to Kota Kinabula (KK) to spend another night before returning to Brunei yesterday, the news report said.

The Bruneian source said that the bus trip was organised by a Muslim group belonging to the Mulaut and Jerudong mosques, who were among the passengers, which included other invited Bruneians.

However, when Sabah police was contacted to confirm this, the authorities said the cause of the crash was still under investigation.

(From left) Some of the injured passengers getting medical aid at the site of the accident. The tourist bus from Brunei rolled twice before crashing into a tree at Kilometre 8.9 Ranau-Tamparuli Road in Sabah.

Of the deceased, a male and a female died on the spot while the other four victims succumbed to their injuries on the way to Tuaran Hospital, which is located outside of Kota Kinabalu (KK), the source added.

Malaysian state media Bernama reported that three of the deceased have been identified as Abd Manan Ishak, 50, Pg Zahama Pg Zainal, 61, and Norhayati Abd Hadi, 61. A further two of the dead were only identified as Faridah, 60 and Sapawi, 60, while "a woman's" identity had yet to be determined, Bernama reported, quoting Sabah Deputy Police Commissioner Datuk Tan Kok Liang.

Meanwhile, the Bruneian source added that a post-mortem was conducted yesterday and "orders" had been sent out to transport bodies back to Brunei "as soon as possible". However, it was not confirmed when the post-mortem could be completed.

The crash victims were initially taken to Tuaran Hospital, but due to a lack of space in the hospital located outside of KK, some of the survivors were transported to the larger Queen Elizabeth Hospital in KK for treatment, a doctor from the emergency department of the KK hospital told The Brunei Times.

Hospital officials in Sabah, however, gave varying accounts on the number of total passengers in the bus. According to Tuaran hospital, victims of the crash consisted of 28 passengers and two drivers, while Queen Elizabeth Hospital recorded 37 passengers and two drivers on the bus.

It was revealed one of the deceased males also had four children involved in the accident, said the Bruneian source. The children, a son and three daughters, are reportedly in stable condition and are being treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.