A fiery head-on collision between a semi-trailer truck and a bus carrying a delegation of young athletes in southern Morocco on Friday killed 31 people and injured nine, according to the state news agency and local media reports.
The news agency quoted authorities saying the crash took place just before sunrise at 7 a.m. in the district of Chbika, near the southern desert city of Tan-Tan.
A video posted by the French-language economic daily L’Economiste shows the flaming wreckage of the tour bus, which caught fire after hitting what the newspaper identified as a tanker truck carrying hydrocarbons.
People wander around the flaming frame of the bus — the truck has been flattened and apparently completely destroyed — in a bleak desert landscape.
According to details provided by the Le360.ma news site, the bus was carrying young athletes and officials from the Ministry of Youth and Sports that were involved in a national sports competition.
The Les Ecos newspaper reported on its website that the athletes were from the northern town of Bouznika and from Laayoune, a city further to the south in the annexed Western Sahara territory. It added that celebrated 10-kilometer runner Hassan Issengar, 31, was among the dead.
According to the U.S. State Department website, traffic accidents are a “significant hazard” in Morocco.
Although there are modern highways between the main cities, the rest of the country is served by two lane roads, often in poor condition and reckless driving habits, such as overtaking on curves, are quite common.
According to the World Health Organization, some 5,217 people died in 2010 from road accidents. New stricter laws have been put in place, however, to make up for historically light enforcement of traffic rules.
Story by the Associated Press.