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Church bus crash leaves 34 dead

by Tola Mbakwe

Eight of the passengers killed were local volunteer teachers for Operation Christmas Child, a program run by Christian charity Samaritans Purse.

CEO of the charity, Franklin Graham, said he's thankful the victims knew their saviour and asked for prayers.

Police said 12 badly-burned bodies were counted at the site after the late-night crash which happened by 1st August.

Elias Ralaiarimanana, a bus driver told local media: "It is unimaginable what happened because the car was in good condition; the papers of the vehicle were in order.

"My wife and my children were among the passengers. The whole family is dead."

Local police spokesman Herilalatiana Andrianarisaona explained the cause of the crash was due to the bus struggling to climb a road on a hill. That led to it falling down a ravine about 20 metres deep.

Authorities report that the bus was packed and was travelling from the central town of Soavinandriana to a church meeting in the north-western coastal port city of Mahajanga.

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