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Posted on May 02, 09:06AM | BNO News
KELOK SEMBILAN, INDONESIA: A passenger bus caught fire in western Indonesia on early Tuesday morning, killing at least thirteen passengers and injuring nearly two dozen others, police said. The bus driver survived the blaze.
The accident happened at around 4:30 a.m. local time when the passenger bus caught fire on a road in Limapuluh Kota district near the city of Payakumbuh in West Sumatra. The passenger bus, operated by the Yanti Group Bus, was near the 30-kilometer marker of the Dumai-Solok route at the time of the accident.
The vehicle, which had departed Dumai in Riau province on Sunday evening and was going to Solok in West Sumatra, was carrying 48 people. Most of the passengers were sleeping when the fire broke out and the blaze quickly spread, causing passengers to panic as they desperately attempted to exit the bus.
The Kompas newspaper said the driver exited the bus when the fire broke out, leaving the passengers to rescue themselves. Kompas said the back door was blocked and a pile of goods and a spare tire made it difficult for the passengers to exit the vehicle. Some of the passengers were able to jump from the bus after breaking windows.
A West Sumatra police spokesman confirmed thirteen passengers were killed, including five women, three men, three boys, one girl and one infant. Another 22 people were injured, some of whom sustained serious injuries. Several Indonesian media reports later said the death toll had risen to fourteen, but authorities were unable to confirm this.
West Sumatra Police Department Public Relation chief Adjutant Chief Commander Mainar Sugiarto told Viva News that preliminary reports suggest that the fire was triggered by a short circuit in the lower part of the front door. Authorities have detained the driver of the bus, who reportedly also attempted to flee the scene.
According to official figures, road accidents kill more than 16,500 people a year in Indonesia, although the actual number is estimated to be more than 37,000. Many accidents in the country are blamed on poor maintenance and dangerous driving as police officers can often be bribed to ignore violations.
In February, fourteen people were killed and 40 others were injured when a passenger bus lost control in the province of West Java and collided head-on with another bus. The bus then hit three pick-up trucks, four passenger cars, three motorcycles, two mini-buses and an electricity pole before plunging into a five-meter (16.4 feet) deep ravine.