At least 34 people were killed when a passenger bus collided head-on with a commercial vehicle and burst into flames in the country’s southern desert Wednesday, Algerian officials said.
One of the North African country’s deadliest road crashes in years also left 12 others injured, many with burn wounds, Algeria’s civil defence agency said.
Unverified media images showed the mangled and charred hull of the bus after the accident which occurred at around 4:00 am (0300 GMT) near Tamanrasset, about a 2,000-kilometre (1,250 miles) drive south of the capital Algiers.
Local media reported burnt bodies were recovered from the bus wreck, near the town of Outoul, 20 kilometres west of Tamanrasset, deep in the Sahara.
The civil defence agency said the bus was carrying passengers between Tamanrasset and Adrar, a town of about 2,000 residents to the northwest.
Footage broadcast by local media showed the bus going up in a massive ball of flames.
Other images shared by Algerian media show rescuers at the scene, near the two burnt vehicles that were involved in the accident.
Authorities did not immediately elaborate on the circumstances of the deadly crash or what had caused it.
Speed is the main cause of road accidents in the country, according to a government road safety agency.
There was no official comment on the accident. Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is currently in China for a state visit.
Mohamed Boudraa, the governor — locally known as wali — of Tamanrasset, visited the local hospital where the 12 injured were being treated, the official APS news agency reported.
It said they suffered serious burns.
Provincial officials also arrived at the site of the accident to oversee rescue operations, APS said.
Algeria recorded nearly 23,000 road accidents in 2022, leaving 3,409 people dead and more than 30,000 injured, according to the country’s road safety chief Nacef Abdelhakim.
Tamanrasset is an important transport hub for the movement of people and goods from Algeria’s far south to the coastal north.
The region, near the borders of Mali and Niger, is also a key transit point for migrants from sub-Saharan Africa hoping to reach Europe via Algeria.
In December 2020, a car crash near Tamanrasset killed 20 people and injured 11 others, most of them African migrants.