Bus Crash in Senegal Kills at Least 40

DAKAR, Senegal — At least 40 people were killed and about 80 were injured early Sunday when two buses collided in Senegal, according to officials in the West African country.

The crash, in the country’s central Kaffrine region, happened at about 3:30 a.m., said Cheikh Dieng, the country’s public prosecutor. He said that initial evidence in the investigation suggested that a tire on one of the buses had burst, causing it to collide with the other.

Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, announced on Twitter a national mourning period of three days, and he said that he was “profoundly saddened by the tragic accident” that had taken place. He also said that a council involving several ministries would look into road safety as well as the safety of public transportation.

Videos of the crash posted on Senegalese news sites on Sunday showed two large white buses crumpled against each other, with debris strewn along the rural, bush-lined road and a long stretch of vehicles waiting to get by, their hazard lights flashing.

About 27,000 people a year are victims of traffic accidents in Senegal, according to the World Health Organization. In recent years, the country — which has a population of about 17 million — has been trying to improve data collection on such accidents. Until that effort began, only about a quarter of accident data was being recorded, according to Ousmane Ly, the head of road safety at Senegal’s Road Transport Directorate.

Africa accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s road fatalities, despite being home to only 3 percent of the world’s registered vehicles, according to the W.H.O. The Africa Transport Policy Program, which works on developing transportation policies, has called it an “epidemic of road fatalities and serious injuries.”

More than 270,000 people die on the continent’s roads each year, and the W.H.O. projects that that figure will almost double by 2030, partly because of rapid urbanization. More vulnerable road users, like cyclists and pedestrians, are most likely to die in road accidents, which disproportionately affect the poor and push many into poverty.

Badly maintained roads, underfunded road safety agencies and spottily enforced traffic laws all contribute to the toll.

In a survey released in 2021 of road users’ attitudes in 12 African countries, three-quarters of people who responded said they did not wear seatbelts while in the back seat of a vehicle. The survey also found that about half of the respondents who drove cars and a third of the motorcyclists said they had recently made hand-held phone calls while driving.

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