Driver suspected of fault in fatal Vietnam bus accident

TN News

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An accident that killed 34 people when a bus plunged off a bridge in central Vietnam was probably caused by poor driving, said an official in VnExpress on Saturday.

Deputy Transport Minister Nguyen Ngoc Dong said initial inspections found no problem with the infrastructure, including the warning signal system, on the Serepok Bridge, where the bus carrying nearly 60 people fell 18 meters into the river below on Thursday night. The bridge links Dak Lak and Dak Nong provinces.

"We have ordered related agencies to continue investigating the case and will announce detailed conclusions once they are available," Dong said.

According to the news website, the bus' black box has been confiscated for further investigations. The bus was operated by the Dak Lak-based Quyet Thang Transport Cooperative.

Colonel Nguyen Van Dinh, deputy chief of Dak Lak Province's Police Department, told VnExpress that since both of the bus' drivers, 44-year-old Pham Ngoc Lam, and 42-year-old Le Cong Bang, died in the accident, they will wait to issue conclusions on blame for the wreck until further investigations are carried out.

In the meantime, the transport cooperative will take civil responsibilities for the accident, which also left 24 critically injured, Dinh said.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Thanh Duc, chief of Quyet Thang cooperative, said that when he reached the site, he heard local people say that Lam, the main driver, ran the bus into the bridge railing to avoid two people riding on a motorbike in the opposite direction.

Bystanders said the motorbike riders were being chased by locals after stealing dogs, Duc said.

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However, Nguyen Van Toan, chief of police division in Hoa Phu Commune, where the bridge is located, said a married couple reportedly riding behind the bus told police that no one was in front the vehicle and that it suddenly lost control and crashed into the railing.

According to Duc, about one and a half hours before the accident happened, at around 8.30 p.m., one of the bus's anti-shock airbags went flat, so the company sent two technicians to fix it.

The bus resumed its trip to Ho Chi Minh City 30 minutes later, Duc said, adding that the incident did not affect the bus's operation.

He also said that Lam had many years' experience, and that he had worked for the company for more than one year and had driven on the route from Dak Lak to HCMC for more than six months.

The case is being investigated further.

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