A total of 19 children and two adults have been killed in South Africa after a truck collided head-on with a van carrying pupils from local schools on Friday, according to the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport.
The crash happened in Pongola, eastern South Africa, on the N2 trunk road, after a lorry driver accelerated and overtook another vehicle on a double-barrier line, “breaching clear all possible traffic rules,” the department said in a Facebook post, describing circulating footage of the incident.
The truck collided head-on with a Toyota Hilux pickup truck, killing 19 students from four local schools and two adults, including the driver, officials said. It is not currently known how many people in total were in the car and whether there are any survivors.
The students were aged 5 to 12, according to news24, a local online news site.
The truck driver, who initially fled the scene, turned himself in to authorities on Saturday after police launched a manhunt for him. He will appear in Pongola Magistrates Court on Monday and faces charges of culpable homicide and negligent driving, according to the KwaZulu-Natal Transport Department.
“We send our deepest condolences to the families of those who died,” Sipho Hlomuka, executive board member for safety and transportation community liaison, said in a statement. statement. “We are deeply troubled by this fatal accident. The death of so many young lives is too painful.”
Following the crash, angry community members torched a truck and threw rocks at other vehicles on the N2 road on Friday, according to the Department of Transport.
“Police and members of the South African Defense Force are currently monitoring the situation in the area,” the department said in a Facebook post.
A KwaZulu-Natal government delegation is expected to visit the families of the victims and the four affected schools, as well as attend court proceedings for the lorry driver on Monday. The delegation includes representatives from the national Department of Transport, the provincial government, the Road Accident Fund, the Road Traffic Management Corporation, the South African Police Service and the Road Traffic Inspectorate.