The Malta Independent 16 December 2018, Sunday

Updated (10): Two dead, 50 given medical treatment as tourist double-decker bus hits tree in Zurrieq

Monday, 9 April 2018, 16:38 Last update: about 9 months ago

Two tourists – a 37-year-old Spanish woman and a 62-year-old Belgian man – lost their lives tragically this afternoon when an open-top bus smashed into a tree on Valletta Road, Zurrieq.

The accident left 50 people injured, including four critically. Two children were among the worst injured.

The accident took place at around 4:15pm, when the bus was travelling along the arterial road. A 24-year-old Maltese man was behind the wheel of the Dennis Trident bus.

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Photos indicate that the front guardrail took most of the impact but the many passengers who were sat on the upper floor were injured.

The accident is the second in Malta this year involving roadside trees.

A driver was killed in February when his car was crushed by a tree during windy weather.

Deputy PM and Health Minister Chris Fearne later told journalists that most of the passengers had suffered injuries to the upper parts of their body. There were many head and neck injuries he said.

 

Initially two ambulances were sent out but when emergency doctors declared a major incident another four ambulances were dispatched. The road was closed to traffic as police officers and firefighters administered first aid to the injured.

Heavily bandaged people could be seen being loaded into ambulances while others who could not immediately be moved were lifted off the bus on stretchers by CPD cranes.

Fearne told journalists that 30 people were treated for injuries at Mater Dei Hospital while another 20 were seen to at nearby health centres. The nationalities of the victims are British, Belgian, Italian, Spanish, German and American.

A total of 12 children were injured in the accident.

Six people were grievously injured, with four – two adults and two children – in critical condition.

The six included two boys aged 6 and 8 of British nationality, a 44-year-old Briton, a 72-year-old Italian woman and a 31-year-old German woman. 

The deputy PM said some of the casualties required emergency surgery.

Fearne said the government was in contact with the respective embassies and a centre for relatives had been set up at the hospital.

The hospital has urged people not to go to the emergency department unnecessarily as doctors were working in full gear to treat the wounded. There was urgent need for blood.

This newspaper was told that all Mater Dei surgeons and specialists were put on stand-by.

Sources said the driver was on his first day on the job after he rejoined the company he worked with last summer.

A magisterial inquiry, headed by duty magistrate Monica Vella, is underway. 

A spokesman for City Sightseeing, operators of the service, said: “We are shocked and saddened to learn that a vehicle operated by our Maltese franchise holder has been involved in a serious accident.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by this tragic event.

“We are communicating with our franchise operator with a view to establishing the full facts of the situation, and are not in a position to comment further at this time.”

 

Speaking in Parliament, PM Joseph Muscat expressed his condolences to the victims’ families and solidarity with the injured. Muscat also thanked the rescue services for their efforts. The Opposition and Speaker Anglu Farrugia associated themselves with the sentiments.

Photos: James Caruana and Michael Camilleri

 

 

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