Brunei bus crash death toll rises to 7

Tour leader Awang Tarsad Damit, 58, was pronounced dead at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at 12.15am, yesterday.

Six others who died on the day of the incident were identified as Abdul Manan Ishak, 50, and Hasnah Yusof, 62, who both succumbed to serious injuires at the scene.

While Pengiran Zaharah Zainal, 61, Dayang Norhayati Abd Hadi, 61, Noor Faridah Husin, 62, and Abdul Ghani Muhamad, 66, died at the Tuaran district hospital.

The deceased and thirteen passengers who sustained minor injuries were flown back to their country by Royal Brunei Airlines.

Brunei Consul General Daud Tahir said nine seriously injured were transported back by the Royal Brunei Air Force.

“All victims (who were flown home) were accompanied by Brunei officials and medical officers.

“Four others are still critically injured and they are still being warded in the hospital including the driver and the co-driver.”

State deputy police commisioner Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the Brunei-owned Sunshine Borneo Tour and Travel bus had been sent to Puspakom for inspection.

In the 3pm incident, the bus carrying 32 Bruneians (including the driver) and an Indian national (co-driver) was travelling from Semporna towards here when the driver lost control of the vehicle at a curve on a downhill stretch at Km8.9 of the Ranau-Tamparuli road near Kampung Kaporingan.

The 44-seater coach skidded, grazed an oncoming tour van before coming to a halt and landing on its side. The bus roof was partially ripped off on impact.

Tan said the tour van driver had lodged a police report, adding the case would be investigated under Section 41(1) of the Road Transport Act 1987 for causing death by reckless or dangerous driving.

Under Section 41 (1), it is stated that any person who, by the driving of a motor vehicle on a road recklessly or at a speed or in a manner which having regard to all the circumstances (including the nature, condition and size of the road, and the amount of traffic which is or might be expected to be on the road) is dangerous to the public, causes the death of any person shall be guilty of an offence.

Upon conviction, offender shall be? punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than two years and not more than ten years and to a fine of not less than RM5,000 and not more than RM20,000.

Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman in a statement here, extends the State government’s condolence towards the Brunei government especially the families of the victims involved.

“We are sadden by the tragedy and our sympathy are with them who are facing this troubled times, while we hoped for fast recovery of those who are injured and still undergoing treatment.

“With the diplomatic ties and strong bond between the two countries, the Sabah state government is willing to extend any necessary assistance to the victims.

“I also assure that the government department and agencies involved will make detailed investigations on the cause of the incident,” he said, while thanking everyone who have rendered their assistance during the tragedy.

State tourism, culture and environment minister Datuk Masidi Manjun when contacted, said it was a tragic incident and regretted what happened to the tourists from the neighbouring country.

“Although accident is always a terrible thing, but it is a tragedy when lives are lost and a lot more are still in critical condition,” he said.

Masidi who is also Ranau Umno chief and Karanaan assemblyman, said even though the popular theory was that the accident happened due to faulty brakes, the downhill area where the accident happened is known to be hard to negotiate and it was likely that the driver faced a similar difficulty.

“So far, the police is still investigating the cause of accident .. so at this point of time it’s difficult to say. We’ll see what the police investigation comes out with,” he added.

According to the Sabah tourism, culture and environment ministry website, Sabah recorded 73,731 visitors from Brunei for the first nine months of this year, up 5.3 percent compared to the previous year for the same corresponding period.

Masidi said Bruneians generally prefer to drive down here compared to using air flights or tour buses as it was more convenient for them to do their shopping and go places.

“I don’t have the figures, but a majority drives their own vehicles when coming here …. it’s a preferred way of travelling,” he added.

The website http://brudirect.com has also posted a statement from Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam, where his majesty has extended his condolence to the families of victims and said the cost of medical treatment and transportation of bodies to be borne by Brunei Government.

His majesty had issued a command for Brunei’s second finance minister Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim and Brunei’s culture, youth and sports minister who is currently the acting health minister Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hazair bin Haji Abdullah to make all necessary arrangements to resolve the matter.

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