Bus Collides With Lorry On North Kazakhstan Highway Killing 16

The collision occurred on a notorious stretch of single carriageway road in North Kazakhstan between a passenger bus and a heavy goods vehicle.

The stretch of road linking the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana and the industrial city of Karaganda to the south has gained considerable notoriety in recent years as the venue of many collisions involving multiple fatalities. This single-carriageway stretch of road carries heavy traffic densities including private cars, buses to the capital and goods vehicles connecting the south of the country with the capital and beyond into Russia.

On Sunday 19th August 2012 at 20:50, a Chinese built HGV transporting rubble towards Astana performed an overtaking manoeuvre in oncoming traffic and collided head-on with an intercity bus carrying passengers from Astana to Karaganda. An Audi 100 car following the bus was also unable to avoid a collision and ploughed into the wreckage.

Of the 31 people travelling on the bus, 14 died at the scene and 17 were hospitalised along with the four car occupants and the lorry driver. The victims included one foreign citizen, 28-year old Marina Sharipkhan from neighbouring Mongolia.

Initially, the lorry driver was thought to have died at the scene as his documents were found alongside one of the victims but it was later established that the 34-year old Astana resident had survived and is now in protective custody at a secure hospital undergoing treatment for a ruptured spleen and a ruptured liver. He is likely to be charged under Kazakhstan law with vehicular homicide involving two or more victims which carries a punishment of between 5 and 10 years imprisonment.

The 41-year old resident of the Karaganda region village of Nuratalda who was driving the car is in a critical condition in hospital. Passengers of the bus and the car were taken by ambulance or air-lifted to three main hospitals in the region including the main medical institution of the capital city.

Investigations into the accident are continuing although the intention to prosecute the lorry driver with vehicular murder has already been made clear. However, the deeper issue of the environmental factors surrounding the incident require further action. The city of Karaganda is a major rail and freight hub in the country with high industrial output. The country’s increasing importance in global logistics, transporting goods and connecting neighbouring China and Russia with Eastern Europe will place unsustainable demands on the existing transport infrastructure.

A road of such strategic importance as the one connecting the south of the country through Karaganda to the northern capital and the border with Russia is inadequate in its present form as a single carriageway, two-lane highway. Prosecuting the lorry driver will enable this incident to be filed as solved but it won’t solve the underlying problem.

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