A bus fell off into a six-metre-deep ravine at KM137 of the North-South Expressway near Muar in Johor, Malaysia, which claimed 14 lives, three of which are female Singaporeans and one female Singapore permanent resident, and left 16 people injured, six of which, five men and one woman, are Singaporeans on Saturday (24 December) at around 4am .
The incident took place at Kampung Jayo, Jalan Kangkar-Senangah, Pagoh.
Sinar Online reported that the bus was ferrying 30 people. All of the victims were conveyed to the Sultanah Fatimah Specialist Hospital on Saturday night, which then cited a list of the deceases. Faridah Tamron, 63, Hamimah Mamu and Hazimah Mustafa, 21, were Singaporeans who were among the 14 who passed away. While, the Singapore permanent resident was said to be Au Poh Kiew.
According to fire and rescue officials quoted by Bernama, the injured passengers comprised seven Malaysians, six Singaporeans, two Myanmarese and one whose nationality was not verified, totalling 16.
The affected Singaporeans’ names, who suffered mainly fractures and were in stable condition, were: Muhammad Hilmi, Mustafa Yasin, Mohd Syed, Alifah Mohd Said, Govinda Raj, and Muhammad Fitri, all of them had been discharged from the hospital and were being transferred to the Singapore General Hospital on Sunday morning.
Bernama noted that all the passengers who were killed in the accident were sitting on the front row.
Three of the Singaporean deceased were buried side-by-side at Choa Chu Kang cemetry on Sunday afternoon.
Mdm Faridah and Ms Hazimah are mother and daughter. Madam Faridah’s husband Mustafa Yasin, 63, and Ms Hazimah’s husband Muhammad Fitri, 23, were not able to attend the funeral as they are also the victim of the bus and have to be in hospital in Singapore.
Mdm Hamimah’s husband Mohamed Syed, son Muhammad Hilmi, 16, and daughter Alifah, 13, were all also injured in the crash and are being treated in hospital here. While, two of her sons, age 21 and 23, who had not been on the bus, attended the funeral.
Muar police chief ACP Azman Ayob said that the victims were in an Alisan Golden Coach Express bus which left Johor Bahru’s Larkin Bus Station at 2am for Kuala Lumpur.
ACP Azman said he believed the bus was travelling at high speed before plunged into the ravine along the North-South expressway. It then crashed into a concrete barrier of the tunnel at Kampung Jayo.
He said, “Initial checks show there are no brake marks, based on the uninterrupted 15-metre skid mark found on the expressway, which indicates there was no attempt by the driver to slow down.”
The Star Online quoted Johor Fire and Rescue Department deputy director Mohd Yusof Mohd Gunnos who said that initial investigation showed that the road surface was in good condition when the incident happened.
He also noted that the roads were dry.
The bus driver was said to only have slept three hours on that fateful day.
He took his wife, who is believed to be Indonesian, and baby daughter who were seated at the place reserved for the co-driver. The driver and his baby passed away. While, his wife survived.
As many as 25 fire and rescue personnels from the Muar, Bukit Gambit and Yong Peng stations were said to have been deployed to the location after receiving the distress call at around 4am.
The company license has been suspended as the Government reviews its safety practices.
According to Malay mail Online, Alisan Golden Coach showed no routes to or from Johor Baru when checked on its website, with most routes’ starting point being from Kuala Lumpur and heading northbound.
The operator of the express bus has agreed to pay for the expenses of the victims, including funeral arrangements.
Goldstar Express (M) Sdn Bhd chief supervisor Steven Chong was reported to have said that his company will also arrange the necessary logistics for all the victims to return home.
Sinar Online cited him to say, “This includes insurance claims for all passengers on board. Our company is also prepared to cooperate and assist the next of kin from this tragedy.”
New Straits Times Online reported Mr Chong as saying that the driver of the Aliran Golden Coach Express bus had just joined the company about a month ago.
Mr Chong reportedly said that Goldstar owned a total of 14 express buses and have been in operation for over 30 years, saying, “This is the first time that we had been involved in an accident like this.”
According to the news report, the police were investigating the case under Section 41 (1) of the Road Transport Act 1987 for causing death by reckless driving after the police believed the cause of the accident to be due to speeding.