Kuala Lumpur: Two Indians were among 37 tourists killed in Malaysia`s worst-ever road accident when a overloaded bus tumbled into a deep ravine, officials said on Thursday.
According to Health Ministry and police officials, the dead include 14 Malaysians, two Indians, a Korean, a Nepalese, and two Bangladeshis. One of the Bangladeshis also held Canadian nationality.
Health Ministry official Jeya Indran Sinnadurai said that the rest of the victims were yet to be identified.
Sixteen survivors are in hospital, including Malaysian, Indonesian, Bangladeshi and Thai nationals. Jeya said all are expected to survive.
The bus had 53 passengers aboard when it swerved off a narrow mountain road and plunged into a deep ravine while going from Genting Highlands, a mountaintop gambling and entertainment park, to the capital Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Local media reported the vehicle was banned by the transport office and was overloaded.
Housing and Urban Wellbeing Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan said the vehicle`s capacity was 44. "You do the math," he said.
"It kept picking up speed and everyone was screaming in fear. There was a lorry in front and the bus driver had to swerve to avoid it and lost control," passenger Suriardi Budiarto was quoted as saying by The Star.
The bus was reportedly "wobbly" before ramming into a barrier and plunging into a 60-metre ravine on the Genting Highlands road.
Rescue operations were hampered by heavy rains. Rescuers had to rely on cranes and Fire and Rescue department`s units to search for victims.
The route has seen several accidents over the years. Two Indian tourists died and 22 people were hurt when a bus overturned last year. Seventeen people died in 1996 when their bus veered off the road.
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin called for greater attention to safety on the route while ordering a probe into yesterday`s incident.
"The Genting Highlands road is a very important route used by many tourists on a daily basis, thus the enforcement of all relevant laws must be given priority to ensure it remains safe," said Yassin.