KAMPALA, Uganda: More than 30 people were killed when a bus collided with a cargo truck on a highway linking South Sudan to Uganda, police and a witness said Monday, and the death toll is likely to rise as some passengers are said to be in critical condition.
The accident happened Monday morning at Nisitu, some 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of Juba, South Sudan's capital, as the bus sped to cross a bridge before a truck arrived from the opposite direction, said John Nsubuga, who heads an association of Ugandans working in South Sudan. The bus crashed into the truck, killing or wounding most of the passengers, he said by phone from the Juba Teaching Hospital mortuary, where bodies were being identified.
Nsubuga said he had counted at least 35 bodies at the mortuary, although a South Sudanese police spokesman, Col. James Monday Enocka, said a preliminary report confirmed only 32 deaths following the accident.
The death toll could rise overnight, said Nsubuga, who said 15 more people "were gasping for their lives" at Juba Teaching Hospital.
"The trailer ripped the bus into pieces," he said, adding that first responders, a group of Ugandan soldiers at a nearby camp, struggled to attend to all victims. Many bled to death before they could be helped, he said.
The bus, which was headed to Uganda, had at least 60 passengers, he said. Most victims were Ugandans, but there were at least three Kenyans and five South Sudanese among the victims, he said.
Thousands of Ugandans operate businesses in Juba and other parts of South Sudan and Ugandan troops are helping the government of President Salva Kiir to put down a rebellion led by ousted vice president, Riek Machar.