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At least 40 dead in Senegal after two buses collide

A view of the scene of a bus accident in Kaffrine, central Senegal, on Sunday. (Cheikh Dieng/AFP/Getty Images)
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DAKAR — At least 40 people were killed and dozens injured in a bus crash in central Senegal early Sunday, officials said, marking one of the deadliest accidents in the West African nation in recent years.

President Macky Sall declared three days of mourning following the crash near Kaffrine, saying in a tweet that he was “deeply saddened by the tragic road accident.” The crash sparked a combination of mourning and outrage in Senegal, with some demanding government accountability for poor road conditions and failures to properly inspect vehicles. Sall said on Twitter that a meeting among ministers will be held Monday to “take firm measures” on road safety and public transport.

“There is a lot of sadness and a lot of pain,” said Abdou Khadre Counta, a teacher from Kaffrine who said his neighbor was killed in the crash as she was traveling to help with a marriage ceremony. “We call on our authorities to take necessary measures to avoid this again.”

Bounama Diarra said he woke up to the news that his older sister, who he said had been “like a mother” to him, was among the deceased. Diarra said that his elder sister had been traveling with her daughter, whose leg was broken, and her 4-month-old grandchild, who was also killed in the crash.

“I am shocked to my core, completely overwhelmed,” said Diarra, who walked to the hospital after receiving the call.

He said he wants his sister to be remembered a someone who was widely loved and loved everyone in return, a devout Muslim who was “always smiling.” The government, he said, must take measures to control the speed of buses.

Videos and photos from the scene showed two white mangled buses that had collided, stopping traffic. Senegal’s public prosecutor Cheikh Dieng said that the accident seemed to have been caused when a tire burst on one of the buses, AFP reported, causing it to crash into a bus coming in the opposite direction.

Officials said that the accident happened around 3:15 a.m. As many as 87 victims, they said, were taken to a hospital.

Mamadou Toure in Dakar contributed to this report.