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Two Buses Collided With a Fuel Tanker in Afghanistan, Killing at Least 50 People

Devastating road accidents on this scale are common in Afghanistan, where drivers often ignore traffic laws on poorly maintained narrow roads that wind through steep mountain gorges.

by VICE News
May 8 2016, 2:55pm

An Afghan boy, who was injured in a road accident, is brought to local hospital in Ghazni, Afghanistan, May 8, 2016. (Sayed Mustafa/EPA)

Two buses collided with a fuel tanker on Sunday morning on the highway linking the capital Kabul and the southern city of Kandahar, killing at least 73 people and wounding dozens more.

Jawaid Salangi, spokesperson for the governor of Ghazni province, where the accident took place, said the drivers had been driving dangerously. Devastating road accidents on this scale are common in Afghanistan, where drivers often ignore traffic laws on poorly maintained narrow roads that wind through steep mountain gorges.

The buses were carrying about 125 passengers in total, and reportedly crashed into the tanker, which was driving in the opposite direction. Witnesses said a huge fire broke out quickly after the crash.

Salangii said Afghan army units were been deployed to the scene of the accident and were trying to save some of the passengers from the wreckage. Many of the injured were reportedly in critical condition.

The highway is a notoriously dangerous route in Afghanistan — not just for driving conditions but for armed gangs who will try to stop vehicles and rob them. Juma Khan, a driver who takes the route regularly, told Rawa, an Aghanistan news outlet, that vehicles are stopped daily by robbers. "Armed men stop vehicles, rob passengers of their goods, search for government officials, and abduct anyone they want."

Police and the Afghan army patrol some parts of the highway.

Isa Jan, a driver with the Ahmad Shah Baba passenger service company, also told Rawa that armed gangs have destroyed parts of the road, which forces vehicles to drive slowly.

"They wait by the destroyed culvert... and stop vehicles," Isa Jan said.