Two Australian tourists who died when their truck crashed into a river along a steep section of a road in Kenya were on an Intrepid Travel tour of East Africa at the time, the Melbourne-based tour company has confirmed.
Three other tourists – an Australian, a Briton and a German – suffered serious head injuries after the overland truck they were travelling in crashed through guard rails in Kenya’s Narok County, about two hours west of Nairobi, police said.
The Narok North police chief, Paul Letting, said the driver of the tour vehicle lost control when the right front tyre burst as it was descending a steep section of the road. The two dead were a man and a woman in their 60s, he said.
Twenty other tourists – from Australia, Germany, Kenya, Switzerland, the United States and Britain – and the tour staff were injured and taken to hospital.
James Thornton, Intrepid Travel’s managing director, said the company’s first concern was helping those affected and their friends and families.
“Senior managers from our operations team in Kenya are assisting passengers and staff involved,” he said.
“Intrepid Travel’s co-founder Geoff Manchester will be departing for Nairobi today to provide support and assistance for travellers and our ground team.”
Intrepid Travel said in a statement that the tourists had started their group tour on September 6 and were travelling between Kenya and Tanzania at the time of the accident.
The accident occurred near Narok, while the truck was travelling between Nairobi and Kisi.
Intrepid Travel said police at the scene suggested the tyre blow-out “is likely to have been caused by something on the road, rather than due to poor tyre conditions”.
“Other passengers have required hospital treatment for a range of injuries,” the tour company said.
“Eighteen travellers and all staff have been transferred to a hospital in Nairobi for further assessment, with two remaining in local hospitals to be treated.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that two Australians had died in the crash, and officials were providing consular assistance to their families.
Officials from the high commission in Nairobi were also helping several other Australians involved in the accident, the department said.
Narok County Administration Police Commander Paul Kerich told The Standard newspaper in Kenya that the area where the vehicle crashed was a notorious black spot.
The crash scene is just three kilometres from the site of another bus crash which killed 42 people in August last year, The Standard reported.
“There are a lot of sharp bends and steep depressions along this road,” Mr Kerich said.
“We want to appeal to drivers, especially those who are new, to exercise caution so as to avoid unnecessary deaths.”
Members of the public who arrived at the crash scene helped to pull free some of the tourists who had been trapped in the vehicle.
Intrepid Travel said concerned friends and family should call Intrepid Travel’s dedicated phone number on (03) 8601 4380.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald