The National – Friday, June 17, 2011
By ZACHERY PER
THREE women died instantly and three men were critically injured when a speeding PMV bus ran over a group of people looting an overturned truck.
The incident happened at the Barola section of the Highlands Highway, Eastern Highlands, yesterday morning.
Police said the dead and injured were among a crowd of Barola villagers looting an overturned container truck carrying bales of second-hand clothes.
The truck, reportedly belonging to the Goroka-based East West Trucking firm, ran off the road while negotiating a corner heading into Goroka.
The PMV bus, believed to be from Henganofi district, sped off to the Kainantu police station, where the driver surrendered himself to police.
Angry relatives of the deceased and the injured then tried to smash other PMV buses and drain fuel from the heavy trucks. But quick intervention by the Kainantu police halted their plans.
Eastern Highlands provincial police commander Augustine Wampe warned people along the highway not to gather and loot items from vehicles involved in accidents.
By doing so, they risked being hit by oncoming traffic.
Supt Wampe also cautioned PMV drivers to drive with care.
Police also said a young man of Asian origin, who was travelling in a mini-bus, and went out to investigate what was happening had his handbag containing his passport and other documents snatched.
The man chased a local young boy who disappeared into bushes.
Other locals assisted the man locate the boy who returned the passport.
They were rewarded K20 for their gesture.
The deaths has left motorists afraid of driving through the area.
Trucks, PMVs and other highway users were stranded on either side for at least one hour before the police took control of the situation and restored traffic flow.