Three Britons killed in road crash in South Africa

Student's overturned truck in South Africa The students were due to fly back to the UK on Friday

Three British students have been killed in a bus crash in South Africa.

Brooksby Melton College said they were Eleanor Payne, 19, from Hinckley, Leicestershire; Samantha Lake, 19, and Daniel Greenwood, 22, both of whom were from Syston, in Leicestershire.

The British High Commission said four others remained seriously ill.

Their bus overturned near Nelspruit in the north-eastern Mpumalanga province, leaving more than a dozen injured.

Two teachers and 18 students from the college in Leicestershire were on the bus, along with a South African guide.

A police investigation has begun to establish why the vehicle veered off the road.

The Zimbabwean driver voluntarily attended a police station. A case of culpable homicide has been opened, and police are investigating whether to bring charges against him.

Ms Lake and Ms Payne died at the scene on the Bulembu Road. Mr Greenwood died in hospital later.

'Shocked'

Diane Smith, a family friend of Eleanor Payne, said she was "a wonderful girl" with a "lovely personality".

And Alan Jordan, 69, a neighbour of Daniel Greenwood, said the 22-year-old was a "nice lad" who would "always say hello".

Four female students are still receiving treatment. Three are in intensive care and a fourth has been undergoing surgery.

They are all understood to be in a serious but stable condition.

The students, aged 18 to 22, were studying for a foundation degree in animal management and welfare. They had been on a wildlife study tour in the region.

Their tourist bus was travelling on the road from Swaziland to visit a monkey sanctuary when the accident happened.

Nicolene Smalman from the Lowvelder newspaper gives more details about the accident

The students arrived in the country on 1 June for a field trip and were due to fly home on Friday.

College principal Chris Ball said: "As you can imagine, we are all deeply shocked and our thoughts and concerns are for the students, their families and staff involved."

And assistant principal Mark Bendle said counselling would be offered to the college's students and staff.

The trip was organised by Chameleon Worldwide in Hampshire and the college said it was working closely with them and the South African authorities.

The BBC's Karen Allen in South Africa said it was understood that the accident happened at about noon local time when the vehicle slid on a sharp bend in the mountainous region near Nelspruit.

Start Quote

My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the three young people who have died in this tragic accident”

End Quote Nicola Brewer British High Commissioner

She said the roads were "pretty treacherous", but the infrastructure in the surrounding area was good and ambulances would have been quick to get to the scene.

Local reports said some of the injured were trapped under the vehicle for a period of time.

Brenda Greaves told the BBC she had spoken to her daughter Rachel, 20, who was on the bus.

Mrs Greaves said: "She's got some abdominal pains, for which she's had an X-ray, but everything seems to be clear.

"She was wearing a seat belt, she says she was the only one wearing a seat belt - I'm not sure if that's the case - but it seems as if the seat belt sort of caused the pain.

"She said that they were going round a very nasty bend and the driver just lost control and that the bus just toppled over - she didn't really know any more than that."

Meanwhile, Nicola Brewer, the British High Commissioner to South Africa, said: "My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the three young people who have died in this tragic accident."

Nelspruit Medi-Clinic Passengers from the fatal crash are being treated at this clinic in Nelspruit

She said she had visited a number of patients in the hospital including the teachers, while consular staff were working on recovering the Britons' belongings.

And she said the response from the South African authorities had been "first class".

Mark Wright, managing director of Chameleon Worldwide, said it was a "tragic event".

In a statement, the company said: "Everyone at Chameleon Worldwide sends their sincere condolences to families and friends of those involved."

It said a team of accident investigation experts was en route to the scene to establish why the bus, which had been deemed roadworthy, crashed.

Anyone concerned about friends or relatives can call either 01962 737634 or the Foreign and Commonwealth helpline on 020 7008 1500.

More on This Story

SOUTH AFRICA 2010

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