Children Among 50 Dead in Kenya Bus Crash Amid Claims of Overloading

NAIROBI, Kenya—An official said 50 people have died, including 7 children, after the bus they were traveling in left the road, rolled down a slope and crashed in the western Kenyan town of Kericho.

Rift Valley regional police boss Francis Munyambu said survivors from the bus that was headed from Nairobi to the western town of Kakamega were receiving treatment at local hospitals. The accident happened around 4 a.m. on Oct. 10.

Local reports gave varying casualty counts.

“Early morning accident at Fort Tenan, Kericho County claims 42 lives. The Western Express bus was from Nairobi and heading to Kakamega. It had 52 passengers on board,” reads a tweet from Standard Digital, a Kenyan news service.

Citizen TV Kenya corroborated the figure of 50 dead, including 7 children.

“UPDATE: Fort Ternan road crash. 31 men, 12 women and 7 children dead totaling to 50 deaths from the crash,” the news service tweeted.

A survivor of the road accident revealed details of the moments leading up to the accident, according to a report by the Standard.

According to the unnamed passenger, the bus had just left the Kenyan capital Nairobi for its destination, but then turned around to pick up more people. The man told Citizen TV Kenya that there had been a heated confrontation between the conductor and passengers amidst objections to overloading the bus.

The additional passengers were seated on the bus floor since all the seats were taken, according to the report.

Witnesses said the bus swerved off the road while driving down a steep slope, the Daily Nation newspaper reported, according to Reuters. At least seven survivors were rushed to Fort Ternan dispensary and Muhoroni Sub County Hospital.

Kericho police boss James Mugera said the bus belonged to Western Cross Express Co. Limited, with the operational name of Home Boyz.

The owner of the bus will face legal action, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said, Citizen TV Kenya reported.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said authorities were investigating what he called a catastrophic incident.

“As authorities investigate the cause of the accident with a view of taking action, I would like to remind drivers to always exercise caution to avoid such catastrophic incident,” Kenyatta said on Twitter.

“My heartfelt condolences to the families of fellow Kenyans who lost their lives in a tragic road accident at Fort Ternan in Kericho County this morning and wish those in hospital quick recovery.”

“The nation is united in grief following the tragic road crash involving a bus at Fort Ternan, Kericho County. We condole with the affected families and wish quick recovery to the injured,” wrote the Deputy President.

“PSV companies must adhere to road safety rules; ensure their drivers are not fatigued and administer refresher driving courses to staff.”

Kenya has struggled to reduce the rising number of road accidents as more people acquire vehicles in the country’s growing middle class.

In 2013, the government re-introduced breathalyzers, but had to remove them again after court orders barred police from charging drivers using readings from the devices as evidence.

According to government statistics, around 3,000 Kenyans die every year in road accidents.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.