At least 12 people died and 41 others were injured on late Monday after a bus carrying 53 passengers plunged into an abyss after trying to avoid a car going in the opposite direction.
The accident took place at around 7:30 p.m. Monday as the bus, owned by Sao Viet (Viet Star) Company, was ferrying 53 passengers from the popular northern mountainous resort town of Sa Pa back to Lao Cai Town in the eponymous province, according to Khuat Viet Hung, vice chairman of the National Steering Committee for Traffic Safety.
When the bus was 18 kilometers away from its destination, it attempted to avoid a car going in the opposite direction and careered off a hillside road and into an abyss, Hung said.
The Lao Cai’s transport department said that as of 11 p.m. Monday, the accident has left 12 people dead and 41 others injured.
News website VnExpress reported the bus wreckage was lying around 200 meters below the hillside road. “Many victims have cried for help. Others were trapped in the bus wreckage, bleeding profusely,” a witness was quoted by the news site as saying.
Transport minister Dinh La Thang has led a task force to Lao Cai to direct rescue work. Another task force, including doctors from the Hanoi-based Viet Duc Hospital and led by deputy health minister Nguyen Thanh Long, is also heading to Lao Cai. Local leaders and doctors too have arrived at the accident scene to expedite rescue work.
As the National Day falls on Tuesday, people had a four-day vacation from Saturday, August 30 to Tuesday, September 2.
Official figures show during the first three days of the national holiday, 123 traffic accidents have taken place across the country, killing 66 people and injuring 70 others.
Road accidents are not new to Vietnam, especially on buses travelling late at night.
Narrow highways, poorly maintained vehicles and drivers' disregard for road safety and traffic rules are often the cause of most fatalities.
Last year, there were 29,385 traffic accidents, killing 9,369 people and injuring about 29,500 others. In 2012, traffic accidents killed 9,424 people nationwide.