LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) — Police in Zambia have arrested and charged a 74-year-old farmer for allegedly causing a bus crash that killed 53 people north of the nation's capital, authorities said Saturday.
Van Eenden Abraham of Mkushi, Zambia, faces dozens of charges of causing deaths by dangerous driving over Thursday's crash near the town of Chifamba, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Lusaka, police spokeswoman Elizabeth Kanjela said.
Abraham was driving a sport utility vehicle at the time of the crash and allegedly tried to overtake the Zambian post service bus despite an oncoming semi-truck being close on the two-lane highway, Kanjela said. That caused the truck to veer into the other lane and smash head-on into the bus, Kanjela said.
Though the charges Abraham face are criminal, the law calls for fines to be paid. Only if a person doesn't pay the fine can he or she be sent to prison.
It wasn't immediately clear if Abraham had a lawyer and a telephone number for his home could not be found. Mkushi, in Zambia's Midlands district, is a town popular among white farmers who fled Zimbabwe amid government land seizures there.
On Thursday, rescuers, including soldiers, climbed over the smashed-in front-end of the white bus, the remains of the orange semi-truck in pieces in front of it. Corpses lay alongside the highway that connects the capital to neighboring Tanzania. With no heavy equipment immediately available, rescuers and onlookers had to push pieces of the wreckage aside to pull out victims of the crash.
Zambia Postal Services runs the bus routes throughout the country, carrying passengers and mail through the nation of 13 million people in southern Africa.
The crash was one of Zambia's worst in recent years. In April 2005, a truck packed with high school students skidded off a mountain road in northern Zambia, killing at least 38 and seriously injuring another 50.