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At least 73 people have been killed and dozens more severely wounded in a head-on collision between an oil tanker and two buses on a major Afghan highway linking the capital, Kabul, with Kandahar.
The circumstances of the accident that took place late on Sunday in the Ghazni province are still being investigated, but the initial information points to high speed as being the possible reason of the crash. Since the highway traverses one of the Afghan regions known for militancy, bus drivers often drive at top speeds to avoid being intercepted by insurgents.
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Clouds of smoke were lifting from the scene of the accident. The initial reports note that the two buses first collided on the narrow highway and then crashed with the oil tanker.
The death toll could be higher as emergency crews comb through the wreckage.
Ismail Kawusi, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Health, said that there were 140 passengers on the buses but that rescue workers had identified only 50 bodies so far.
Transporting fuel on Afghanistan’s highways is a recipe for disaster.
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Afghanistan has some of the world’s most dangerous roads, often in dilapidated condition, and traffic rules are seldom enforced.
In April 2013, a similar tragedy took place when a bus hit a fuel tanker in the southern Kandahar province, killing 45 people.
In November last year, the World Bank signed off a $250-million grant to upgrade roads crossing Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush mountains, a crucial trade route that is often closed in winter by snow.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com