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Minister warns of sleeper bus risks

Update: September, 04/2014 - 14:50
Transport Minister Dinh La Thang yesterday said that sleeper buses must not be allowed to run on sloping and tricky routes in mountainous areas.— Photo citinews

HA NOI (VNS) — Transport Minister Dinh La Thang has declared that sleeper buses must not be allowed to run on steep and tricky routes in mountainous areas.

"Sleeper buses have a very high chance of overturning on that kind of route," he said.

Thang was speaking at an urgent meeting held in Ha Noi on Wednesday following a tragic bus accident on Monday.

Altogether, 12 people died when a bus plunged into a ravine in Bat Xat District in Lao Cai Province.

Another 40 or so passengers were taken to hospital with injuries.

Thang urged authorities to draw lessons from the tragedy and ensure stricter checks on vehicles to make sure they followed the rules.

At the same time, he ordered the Directorate of Roads to check all the railings along the section of National Highway 4D that runs through Lao Cai's Sa Pa Town because they "looked fragile and too low".

"It looks like the railings were constructed without consideration for people's safety," Thang said.

Tran Ky Hinh, head of the Viet Nam Register said that in the past two years, there had been 22 traffic accidents involving sleeper buses throughout the country, most of which occurred overnight.

He said 30 per cent had occurred on steep roads in mountainous areas. Most of the others occurred on the National Highway 1A that runs through central Viet Nam.

A dangerous bend at Ma Pi Leng pass in the northern province of Ha Giang. Sleeper buses may not be allowed to run on steep routes in mountainous areas following a tragic bus accident on Monday. — VNA/VNS Photo Nhat Anh

Minister Thang also told authorities to revise regulations for sleeper buses to make sure manufacturers equipped them with seat belts.

He also called for detailed specifications on the operation and control of night rescue work.

Nguyen Trong Hai, director of the Lao Cai Transport Department, said there were strict punishments for buses that strayed from set routes.

He said the department would co-operate with the police to check that this was done in future.

Deputy Minister of Transport Le Dinh Tho said that since Monday night's tragedy, the Ministry had checked 650 of the nation's 4,500 sleeper buses.

He said to prevent further incidents, buses would be assigned specific routes and be told to restrict luggage and other goods to specific limits.

The wrecked bus was towed from the ravine on Wednesday after more than 10 hours' work. It was sent to provincial police for investigations.

To date, 20 victims of the accident have been discharged from hospital.

Fifteen others are still receiving treatment at Lao Cai General Hospital. Six of them are suffering from severe injuries while two are in a critical condition. — VNS

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