Bus crash kills at least 24 in northern Afghanistan

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan (AFP) - At least 24 people were killed when a passenger bus plunged into a ravine after a head-on collision with a truck in northern Afghanistan, officials said Friday (Dec 25), in the latest deadly road accident.

Women and children were among those killed in the accident Thursday (Dec 24) on a major highway in Samangan province.

"The crash happened when the bus carrying more than 50 passengers was travelling from Kabul to Mazar-i-Sharif," said Sarajuddin Fitrat, the governor of Hazrat Sultan district where the accident occurred.

"Twenty four people were killed and 17 others were injured." The defence ministry in Kabul gave a much higher death toll of 43.

The injured were rushed to hospital while police and a rescue team retrieved the bodies.

Afghanistan has some of the world's most dangerous roads and deadly accidents are common.

At least 18 people were killed in May when a minivan overturned in the western province of Badghis.

And in April 2013 a bus hit a wrecked fuel tanker in the southern province of Kandahar, killing 45 people.

The World Bank in November signed off a US$250 million (S$351 million) grant to upgrade roads crossing Afghanistan's Hindu Kush mountains, crucial trade links that are often closed in winter by snow.