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  • 10 Worst Bus Accidents in History

    10 Worst Bus Accidents in History

Have you ever been on a passenger or tour bus carrying many passengers and wondered what would happen if the bus driver fell asleep or failed equipment caused the operator to lose control? While serving as one of the most efficient means to transport large groups of people, buses also result in the most significant death toll due to their mammoth size.

From 1998 through 2019, 6,770 people died, and another estimated 567,000 people suffered injuries in bus accidents. However, most of those killed and wounded are not bus occupants. Bus collisions are less frequent than those involving cars, however. Tragic incidents, such as aircraft crashes, train accidents on frozen rivers, or an exploding pickup truck, are part and parcel of the news cycle in recent years. All can be devastating, especially when the driver is distracted or impaired.

School buses parked in Los Angeles, CA

Disasters involving charter passengers and school buses have far-reaching impacts beyond the affected individuals’ families, the bus company, communities, the state governor, and entire nations. School bus crashes have killed 108 people in the U.S. up till 2021.

This represents a 50% rise, compared to pre-Covid-19 lows of 54 deaths in 2020. (Source – National Safety Council (NSC) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA.) Throughout history, humankind has endeavored to comprehend these calamities and take preventive measures to avert the deadliest bus crashes from happening at all.

In this article, world-famous bus accident lawyer, Michael Ehline, will delve into the most deadly bus crashes, shedding light on the risks associated with buses, including those faced by high school students, senior citizens, and the less privileged.

Ultimately, we will provide a method for people who got hurt to contact and speak with a serious injury lawyer to obtain the maximum compensation as a victim. People we can help include wounded volunteers, parents, and others pulled into the tragedy of a coach accident with injuries or lives lost.

10 Deadliest Bus Accidents in the World and More?

From New York City’s articulated buses, stretching up to 60 feet and accommodating 115 passengers, to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s DAF Super CityTrain buses, spanning 106 feet and carrying up to 350 passengers, there are many associated, critical factors contributing to these tragedies, hospital inpatient visits and people killed by no fault of theirs.

There is a lot of disinfo about the worst or deadliest crashes beyond just the five most fatal bus crashes in North America. We have fact-checked from an evidence-based perspective beyond what A.I. can perform in 2023. Below, we will cover the five deadliest bus crashes by accident in the world and those in the USA, including the Yuba City bus disaster. Let’s go!

1. 1968 – Hida River, Japan (102 Dead)

Date: August 18, 1968

Dead and Injured: 102 Dead, Injured Unknown

Description: On August 18, 1968, heavy rains from a typhoon caused the Hida River in Japan’s Gifu prefecture to flood, creating hazardous conditions. A caravan of 15 buses carrying sightseers was returning to Nagoya after visiting Mount Norkura. Around 1:20 a.m., a nearby hillside collapsed, triggering a landslide that swept two buses into the swift river and swept downstream into a water-filled pit.

One driver and two passengers managed to escape. Rescue squad efforts by approximately 1,000 workers led to the recovery of 28 bodies downstream. However, other, larger buses were harder to locate due to adverse conditions. Ultimately, the devastating accident tallied 102 people dead.

2. 1983 – Yungas, Bolivia Bus Accident (100 + Dead)

Bolivia bus traveling across the lake

Date: July 24, 1983

Dead and Injured: 100 + Dead, Injured Unknown

Description: Also known as the “Death Road” accident, a bus carrying more than 100 passengers crashed while traveling on the treacherous Yungas Road in Bolivia. The exact number of fatalities varies in different reports, but it is estimated that over 100 people died in this tragic incident.

3. 1988 – Cerro de la Silla, Mexico Bus Accident (100 + Dead)

Date: June 13, 1988

Dead and Injured: 100 + Dead, Injured Unknown

Description: On June 13, 1988, in Monterrey, Mexico, a bus carrying around 111 people veered off the road, fell, and flipped down a 150-foot ravine at Cerro de la Silla. This devastating accident resulted in over 100 fatalities.

4. 1999 – Karnataka, India (94 Dead)

Date: June 8, 1999

Dead and Injured: Est 94 Dead, Injured Unknown

Description: In Karnataka, southern India, a privately owned bus carrying over 100 passengers was en route to Malebennur on June 8, 1999. Investigators determined the bus’s tire burst, causing it to plunge into a lake. Despite the tragic overcrowding, with people on the roof and hanging out the back, rescue efforts at 94 fatalities occurred. The authorities intended to hold the bus driver and companies accountable for overloading the vehicles, but the legal action outcome is unclear.

5. 2004 – Zahedan, Iran (90 Dead)

Date: June 2004

Dead and Injured: 90 Dead, 114 Injured

Description: In Zahedan, Iran, a tragic accident occurred in June 2004 when a gasoline tanker collided with an overloaded bus near the Pakistani border. The collision resulted in an explosive fire, leading to 114 injuries and the horrifying death of 90 people. The severity of the accident made it difficult to identify the victims.

The bus had been stopped at a police checkpoint, which aimed to inspect vehicles due to the area’s association with illegal drug trafficking. The checkpoint’s location on a sharp bend in the road, coupled with alleged outdated methods, often caused traffic jams. Unfortunately for drivers, the tanker’s high-speed turn led to the devastating collision and one of the deadliest bus accidents on record.

6. 1967 – Cavite, Philippines (84 Dead)

Date: January 6, 1967

Dead and Injured: 84 Dead, Injured Unknown?

Description: On January 6, 1967, a tragic accident occurred in the Philippines’ Cavite province when two buses carrying Catholic pilgrims collided near a ravine. The buses, described as “homemade” with canvas tops and open sides, transported passengers to the Feast of the Three Kings in Termate.

As the caravan navigated a winding mountain road, the brakes of one bus failed, causing it to crash into the bus in front during a sharp turn. Both buses plummeted over a 150-foot precipice, with half of one landing upside down and the other hitting headfirst. The ravine’s floor was littered with victims who had been ejected during the collision.

The incident, involving “rolling coffins” due to prior safety concerns, resulted in the devastating loss of 84 lives. Witnesses described hearing cries and screams from adults and children, but the thick growth of trees and bushes below obstructed or blocked their view of the buses. The accident underscored the need for improved safety standards in such transportation to prevent further tragedies.

7. 2016- Kintampo, Ghana (71 Dead)

Date: November 23, 2021

Dead and Injured: 71 Dead, Injured Unknown

Description: On February 17, 2016, a tragic accident occurred in Ghana when an overloaded passenger bus with over 80 people collided head-on with a cargo truck near Kintampo. The bus was on its regular route from Kumasi to Tamale when its faulty brakes caused the devastating collision with the tomato-loaded truck.

The impact was so severe that the bus and truck were nearly fused. Witnesses described the scene as “pathetic and gory,” with human bodies scattered around. Despite the efforts of medical personnel, 71 people lost their lives in the tragedy. The bus was well beyond its capacity, designed to seat only 50 people. The exact number of fatalities among the five on the truck remained unclear.

8. 2008 – Boromo, Burkina Faso (66 Dead)

Date: November 15, 2008

Dead and Injured: 66 Dead, 30 Injured

Description: In Burkina Faso, a horrifying bus accident occurred on November 15, 2008, near Boromo. A sugar truck collided with a bus transporting dozens of workers en route to Ivory Coast. The collision resulted in a devastating fire that engulfed both vehicles.

The chaotic scene left many victims trapped in the wreckage while others were thrown onto the roadside. In total, there were 96 victims, with 66 fatalities. The aftermath was described as “gruesome” by a court prosecutor, and it took considerable time to identify all the remains.

Regrettably, roadway accidents are relatively common in this West African country, especially as the rainy season ends and roads become eroded and washed out.

9. 2021 – Bosnek, Bulgaria Tour Bus Crash (45 Dead)

Date: November 23, 2021

Dead and Injured: 45 Dead, Injured Unknown

Description: On November 23, 2021, a tragic bus accident occurred near Bosnek, just outside Sofia, Bulgaria, involving a convoy of tourists returning to North Macedonia after visiting Istanbul, Turkey. One of the buses crashed into a highway divider and caught fire, leaving 45 victims who perished. Some escaped through a broken window, but most died from suffocation while trapped inside the wreck. The exact cause of the accident remains unclear, but “human error” is suspected.

Accidents are unfortunately common in Bulgaria, with the country having the second-highest road fatality rate in the European Union in 2019, according to European Commission data reported by Euronews.

10. 2021 – Kagera, Tanzania Bus Accident (39 Dead)

Date: May 6, 2021

Dead and Injured: 39 + Dead, Injured Unknown

Description: In Tanzania, a tragic bus accident occurred in Kagera Region, resulting in the deaths of 39 people and injuring many others. The accident involved an overloaded bus that plunged into a ravine.

Below, We Cover Other Notable Wrecks

1975 – Dibbles Bridge, England (33 Dead)

Date: May 27, 1975

Dead and Injured: 33 Dead, Injured Unknown

Description: On May 27, 1975, the deadliest bus tragedy in the United Kingdom occurred at Dibbles Bridge in North Yorkshire. The bus, carrying mainly older women on a day excursion from Thornaby-on-Tees to the Yorkshire Dales, encountered a steep downgrade. The official report proclaimed that the bus missed a sharp turn and crashed through the bridge’s parapet due to a brake failure caused by an incorrect shift. This caused it to fall 17 feet, landing upside down into a garden with the still-alive passengers inside. The devastating accident claimed the lives of 33 people by drowning, including the substitute bus driver, Roger Marriott.

The old coach’s structure collapsed upon flipping, causing severe injuries to the rest of those inside. Despite efforts to remember the victims, the owner of the bus received a mere £75 fine for failing to maintain the brakes properly, which was seen as an inadequate consolation for the families of the deceased. In May 2022, a permanent memorial was unveiled at Thornaby Town Hall to honor the memory of the tragedy.

1963 – Salinas Valley Drunk Driver Train Crash, Chualar, California (32 Dead)

Date: September 17, 1963

Dead and Injured: 32 Dead, 25 Injured

Description: Widely reported as the deadliest bus accident in the U.S., the Chualar bus crash occurred on September 17, 1963. The accident involved an oncoming train colliding with a makeshift “bus,” a flatbed truck equipped with two long benches and a canopy. There were no crossing gates or warning lights for the bus carrying 58 migrant farmworkers as it attempted to cross a railroad crossing outside Chualar in the Salinas Valley, California. The bus ended up striking the freight train, which took 32 lives. Another 25 were left injured, making it the deadliest road accident in U.S. history at the time. (Source, National Safety Council.) The impact of this catastrophic event reverberated beyond its immediate consequences and had significant societal and political implications regarding agricultural farms in our nation.

The Chualar bus crash was pivotal in Congress’s termination of the Bracero Program 1964. (a guest worker initiative that allowed Mexican laborers to work temporarily in the United States, primarily in agriculture.) The so-called Bracero crash also ignited the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, highlighting the injustices of makeshift buses and unsafe working conditions experienced by Mexican and Hispanic laborers in the agricultural sector. Ultimately, a section of Highway 101 near an off-ramp was titled the Bracero Memorial Highway in loving memory of the Chicanos.

2011 Bathani Tola, Bihar Double Decker Bus Crash (31 Dead)

Date: October 5, 2011

Dead and Injured: 31 Dead, Injured Unknown

Description: In what is known as the biggest double-decker crash in history, the October 5, 2011, crash in Bathani Tola, Bihar, India, the bus collided with a tractor-trolley in its path. This is noteworthy, as it involved a double-decker bus driven in India instead of Brittain. Ultimately, it claimed the lives of 31 people. Many other victims suffered injuries in the collision.

1975 – Yuba High School Bus Crash Martinez, California (29 Dead)

Date: May 21, 1975

Dead and Injured: 29 Dead, Injured Unknown

Description: At the outset, this was not the deadliest bus crash, despite what ChatGPT or Google says. A disaster struck a bus carrying 53 high school students from Yuba City, California, with a chaperone, traveling on I-880 to a singing program at Miramonte High School in Orinda, CA. The bus had indicators indicating leaking fuel pressure, which happened as he “.. had confused the brake warning light with the oil pressure light.”

The driver decided to leave the highway to add some oil to the bus to prevent engine issues and try to find a gasoline station on Hwy 4. He turned a 180-degree turn towards Marina Vista, as the brakes gave out and failed as the driver turned frantically, tipping the bus over the elevated ramp rail exit and sliding over 30 feet down a cliff onto its roof. The National Transportation Safety Board found the primary factors in the crash were the failure of a compressor drive belt supplying air to the brakes and the driver’s lack of inexperience. The Yuba City High School freeway ramp bus crash resulted in the tragic 29-person body count, primarily 28 students, once the vehicle tipped over the rail, landing on its roof.

1998 – Carrollton, Kentucky Church Bus (27 Dead)

Date: May 14, 1988

Dead and Injured: 27 Dead, 34 Injured

Description: On May 14, a tragic accident involving a church bus loaded with 67 passengers (mainly teenagers) in Kentucky, near Carrollton. A drunk factory worker (blood alcohol count of .21, double the legal limit) drove his Toyota pickup in the wrong direction on Interstate 71. The pickup slammed head-on with a church bus returning from an outing at Kings Island amusement park near Cincinnati. The force of the impact jammed the bus’s front door shut. The passengers all survived the crash. Passengers could not break out the windows and were forced to exit through a rear emergency exit door, blocked by Igloo-style ice coolers as a fire erupted from the ruptured gas tank. Ultimately, this caused the fiery death of 27 passengers and left 34 others who survived, injured with burns and smoke inhalation.

This devastating Kentucky drunk driving crash became one of the most dangerous in the United States and, reportedly, the fourth deadliest charter bus accident on that road. Although the bus driver was undergoing dialysis and had heart problems, the National Transportation Safety Board investigation never concluded as to any role he may have comparatively played. The accident profoundly impacted the drunk driving movement, prompting older women and some family members of the smashed victims to praise god and become active in the Kentucky Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Reporting showed the survivors of the crash vividly recalled the terrifying event, with one individual, 14 years old, missing, standing directly behind the bus operator. The intoxicated driver was tried, convicted of second-degree manslaughter, and sentenced to 16 years in state prison. Government actions were taken, including the formation of reforms to make school buses safer, including installing multiple emergency exits, flame-retardant seats, and fireproof floor coverings.

1958 – Prestonsburg Bus Crash, Inattentive Kentucky Bus Driver (27 Dead)

Date: February 28, 1958

Dead and Injured: 27 Dead, Injured Unknown

Description: A tragic accident occurred involving a school bus carrying 48 school children and a teacher on U.S. 23. The morning was overcast and cold after a thaw caused by a thunderstorm. Donald Horn was a bus driver operating a Floyd County school bus behind a wrecker. As Horn witnessed another car bus crash into a ditch, he took his eye off the road and slammed into the rear of the wrecker truck. After rear-ending the lead vehicle, the bus fell into an embankment into a fork of the Big Sandy River. The accident was especially devastating as most of the victims were schoolchildren.

The bus with twenty-one students was dragged from the river 55 hours after it was located by Navy divers, 250 feet from where it hit the river and submerged. This rollover accident is one of the deadliest bus crashes in U.S. history. Ultimately, twenty-six students and the driver dedicated a memorial to the dead and Kentucky’s Rescue Squads in Kentucky’s 120 counties who helped.

1951 Chatham Docks Double Decker Bus RMC Case (24 Dead)

Date: December 4, 1951

Dead and Injured: 24 Dead, Injured Unknown

Description: At night, on a dark, unlit road, a double-decker bus driven by John Sampson collided with a company of 52 Royal Marines Cadet columns marching from their barracks in Gillingham to the Chatham Docks to watch a boxing match. The accident resulted in the deaths of 17 cadets on the scene, and seven other boys lost their lives shortly after, with many different people injured. Changes to the rules regarding marching columns on dark roads at night were made. From that point on, columns of marchers were required to carry a red light at the rear to enhance visibility and safety during nighttime marching. Ultimately, Sampson was found guilty of accidental death, fined, and suspended from driving for three years as his punishment.

2005 – Brighton Gardens Nursing Home Crash, Houston, TX (23 Dead)

Date: September 17, 1963

Dead and Injured: 23 Dead, 25 Injured

Description: On September 23, 2005, a tragic incident occurred when a bus carrying nursing home residents from Hurricane Rita caught fire and exploded while stuck in traffic on a bus heading south of Dallas. The bus was en route from the Brighton Gardens nursing home in Houston to another house in Dallas, carrying 38 residents and six employees. Tragically, 23 elderly patients, who were too frail to escape, died. Investigators later discovered that the patient’s oxygen tanks were a factor in stoking the flames during the incident.

1999 Casino Bus Mother’s Day Crash (22 Dead)

Date: May 10, 1999

Dead and Injured: 22 Dead, Injured Unknown

Description: The 1999 Mother’s Day Casino Bus Crash, also known as the New Orleans casino bus crash, was a tragic incident on May 9, 1999, in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. While off Interstate 610, en route to the Casino Magic, in Bay St. Louis, Miss., the bus driver rolled over three lanes of traffic and crashed through a guardrail in a head-on collision into a barrier. It resulted in 22 lives it had carried being lost, primarily senior citizens. Investigators found severe medical conditions, including marijuana and an antihistamine influence, had impaired the bus driver.

1989 Alton, Texas Bus Accident (21 Dead)

Date: September 21, 1989

Dead and Injured: 21 Dead, Injured Unknown

Description: Alton, Texas Bus Accident (September 21, 1989): A school bus carrying 81 junior high students was struck by a Dr. Pepper truck carrying asphalt near Mission, Texas. The accident caused the deaths of 21 students and the bus driver, while 44 others were injured and crying for help.

2004 Mississippi Casino Bus Accident (14 Dead)

Date: On October 9, 2004

Dead and Injured: 14 Dead, 16 People Were Injured

Description: On October 9, 2004, a tragic accident occurred in Marion, Arkansas, involving a bus run by a mom-and-pop tour operator. The bus carrying forty-six people careened off an interstate. It overturned, resulting in the deaths of 14 travelers from the Chicago area who were on their way to a Mississippi Casino. In addition to the fatalities, apparently, 16 other individuals were injured in the accident. The incident highlighted the importance of safety regulations and oversight in the transportation industry to prevent such devastating accidents.

Particular Problem: Pilgrim School Bus Tours

A pilgrim tour is typically a recovered and refurbished school bus converted into a church tour bus. The term refers to a unique and unconventional journey where participants embark on a spiritual or religious pilgrimage, traveling in a school bus as their mode of transportation. Unlike traditional retreats that may involve walking or other means of travel, this spiritual tour takes a more adventurous and inclusive approach, using a refurbished school bus to accommodate a larger group of travelers. Let’s take a look at some history. Bus crash in Croatia leaves 12 Polish pilgrims dead, 40 Mecca Pilgrims Killed in Bus Crash, 16 Indian pilgrims killed as bus falls into gorge in Kashmir.

These cases can be a nightmare when seeking damages from the at-fault parties, not just due to religious prohibitions against suing. We are here to assist people in claiming their rights, regardless of the type of defendant or defense used to escape paying the injured parties.

We Desire to Help You Regardless of the Type of Claim

We dispelled some myths and covered world history’s ten worst bus accidents. We also discussed the causes and effects of bus wrecks. Were you in a bus accident? Ehline Law’s attorneys have decades of experience working with people like you who are involved in contentious negligence claims. We handle complex, severe injury cases, unusual cruise ship-related disputes, oil well contamination, and distracted driving cases nationwide in Southern California, Texas.

If you have suffered injuries or are facing a dispute with your employer, ask for a free consultation with our caring legal team. That way, we can sit with you and give you a free consultation. If we click, our team can begin the arduous process of claiming your rights to compensation immediately.

Give us a call today to talk to Michael.

The experienced law team at Ehline Law are ready to listen to your side. When you reach out to our staff, you’ll get personable, compassionate service. Not only will we aggressively fight for you and your loved ones, we’ll also keep you fully informed about your case. That way, you are not left wondering what’s going on. Let us take over the stress, so you can get your life back on track. Reach out today to talk – we’re ready to hear your story.

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Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.