The Jakarta Post
The number of victims killed after a bus plunged into a ravine in Pagar Alam, South Sumatra, on Monday evening has risen to 35, rescuers have said, following two nights of search and rescue missions in the area.
As of Wednesday evening, authorities had retrieved seven more dead bodies, some of which were found inside the submerged bus and some on the surface of the Lematang River, Palembang Search and Rescue Agency official Benteng Telau said.
"The seven victims were found dead and have been taken to the Basemah City Hospital in Pagar Alam," he said as quoted by Antara.
Benteng said that the seven victims’ identities had matched the families’ reports received by the authorities on Wednesday. The team expected to continue the search on Thursday morning.
They said the search on Thursday would focus on a six-kilometer area surrounding the scene of the crash. The team would follow the river flow to the east as there was still a possibility that the number of victims would increase.
The team said it would also dive into the area around the submerged bus.
According to the Pagar Alam Police, the bus, which left Bengkulu province for Palembang, had about 50 people on board the night of the accident.
On Monday evening, the bus careened into an 80-meter ravine beside an uphill road with a sharp precipice and fell into the river.
Authorities are still investigating the exact cause of the accident.
National Police head of traffic corps Insp. Gen. Istiono said based on the police’s preliminary findings, the bus driver's license had been invalid since 2010.
The bus, operated by PT Sriwijaya Pratama Express, had been in use for more than 20 years.
“The route is too sharp, it needs more lighting and warning signs to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future," Istiono said.
Prior to the deadly accident, the U-shaped Lematang route hairpin where the tragedy took place had seen similar accidents.
In 2017, families of Indonesian Military members fell victim to a similar accident in the area. (ggq)