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Coach crash: Tourists who suffer carnage on roads.

Byline: Sarah Probert

The most serious bus crash involving Britons abroad in recent years happened in September 1999 when 26 tourists, including four from the Midlands, and their guide were killed when their vehicle skidded off a wet mountain road in South Africa.

The bus overturned several times, ripping off its roof, and came to rest 35ft below the narrow road on the notoriously treacherous Long Tom Pass near Mpumalanga. Another ten people suffered serious injuries and some were thrown up to 200ft from the vehicle.

Geoffrey and Jean Francis, of Ludlow, Shropshire, and Clive and Patricia Jones, of Stokeon-Trent, were among the dead, while Barry Watson, of Evesham, Worcestershire, suffered fractured ribs and a collapsed lung.

An inquest in November 2002 in Britain recorded an open verdict but the bus driver, Titus Dube, who suffered a broken spine in the accident, was jailed by a South African court for six years after admitting culpable homicide.

His sentence was later suspended on appeal and he was banned from driving for six years.

The accident followed a similar one in 1999 when five British tourists were among ten fatalities when a bus run by the same company, Springbok Atlas, skidded off a rain-soaked road at Piet Retief.

While South Africa has the continent's most extensive and modern road network, its road casualties are among the highest - in 2000 about 15,000 people died.

Eight British tourists were killed in the country on New Year's Eve 2003 when their minibus overturned while heading for Royal Natal National Park.

Earlier the same year, British teacher Richard Goodwin and his wife Susan, both 54, from Pucklechurch, Bristol, were among five killed in a bus crash in Colima, Mexico.

Three members of an Army women's basketball team were killed when a lorry crashed into their stationary minibus near Calais, France, in March 2003, and four months later, an 18year-old Army cadet was decapitated when he put his head out of a coach skylight as it travelled through Holland.

Last year a Midland couple were awarded a share of pounds 14 million in compensation after they were injured in a bus crash in America.

Robert Greenway and his wife Diane, from Solihull, were among 39 British tourists injured when the vehicle overturned and slid 200ft on a road in Nevada in September 2000.


The crash at Long Tom Pass in South Africa
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 12, 2004
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