The Head of Government and a number of senior Ministers have visited the site of yesterday’s truck crash that killed 16 and has left 60 injured, four seriously.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Health, 43 of those injured were treated in Kasserine Regional Hospital. A further 17 were transferred to hospitals in Sfax, Kairouan, Sidi Bouzid, Tunis and Ben Arous Specialist Burns Unit, where four are said to be in critical condition.
The accident occurred yesterday after the brakes on a truck carrying cement reportedly failed, causing the truck to veer into a bus before careering into a high voltage electricity pole and eventually a busy souk, (market).
While the Ministry of Health was keen to reassure the public that the crash victims were being well cared for, the fact that victims with serious injuries had to be transferred to hospitals as far as Tunis raises questions about the adequacy of treatment for patients with serious and emergency medical problems.
During his visit to Kasserine, the new Head of Government, Youssef Chahed spoke to Mosaique FM stating that a meeting will be held with the Minister of Health in order to talk about the problems at Kasserine Regional Hospital.
Yesterday, the newly appointed Minister of Health, Samira Maraii visited patients in the local Hospital, accompanied by both the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Defense. The Ministers spoke to the medical staff and families of the victims.
Today, Kasserine residents demonstrated at the crash site calling for improvements in the local infrastructure and for the souk to be relocated, Mosaique FM reported.
Speaking to Tunisia Live, a spokesperson of the Minister of Interior, declined to comment on reports of a missing person named as Mohamed Ben Hamza Idoudi. In an interview also broadcast on Mosaique FM, the missing man’s uncle stated that Idoudi had not been heard from in 24 hours.
Questions have also been raised over the road-worthiness of the cement truck whose brake failure is understood to have resulted in the accident. Chahed has been reported as calling for an “Immediate investigation to determine the circumstances of [(the)] Khamouda (Kasserine) tragic accident, and to determine responsibilities and take the necessary measures for the purpose.”
According to Directinfo, cars older than four years must be tested for road-worthiness every two years. This compares to the UK where safety checks for vehicles three years and older are carried out annually.
Zaineb is a journalist in the Tunisia Live newsroom. She speaks Arabic, French and English.