KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – A small bus packed with secondary students on their way to class plunged off a seaside cliff Monday on the island of St. Vincent, killing at least five children.
Authorities were searching for two others who were unaccounted for after the crash.
The minibus was full, with about 21 people, including the driver, a conductor and another adult, at the time of the crash, Police Commissioner Michael Charles said.
It struck a utility pole and went off the cliff, falling about 20 feet to the rocks on the northern Atlantic Ocean side of the small island.
Fourteen of those on board the bus were hospitalised, according to the Ministry of Health, but no details were provided on their conditions.
The driver was injured, but survived the crash and assisted in the rescue efforts, the ministry said in a statement.
Coast Guard boats and police searched for the missing girls but it was a difficult effort amid heavy surf along the rocky coast.
The cause of the accident is under investigation, Charles said.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves called the crash a “tragedy of national proportions,” and canceled the annual budget speech he was scheduled to deliver Monday to Parliament.
“It was a terrible accident and I think everyone’s heart is really heavy because of what has taken place,” Gonsalves said in a radio interview.
Authorities did not identify the children, though their names were widely known on an island of only about 100,000 people.
Almost the same time, there was an accident in St. George’s, Grenada involving a mini bus that left three persons hospitalised.
The accident took place at the Government House round-a-bout on Upper Lucas Street as the bus made its way along the popular St. Paul’s to St. George’s route.
THE NEW TODAY understands that the driver lost control of the vehicle as the back left wheel flew off the bus which then collided with the railing along the road.
The railing prevented the bus from going over a 100 feet steep incline.
It is not clear whether the Traffic Department of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) will press charges against the bus driver following reports that the bus was running allegedly on defected tyres.
This was the first major road accident for the year in the Spice Isle and police are said to be continuing their investigations into the matter.