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Jul 11, 2019

Bus Catches Fire on GP Highway with 41 Tourists Onboard

A group of U.S. nationals, who arrived on a scheduled cruise ship call this morning, had a huge scare.  The visitors were heading to the Belize Zoo when the bus they were travelling in, burst into flames near Hattieville before they reached their destination on the George Price Highway.  The fire sent a plume of smoke over the highway, interrupting the flow of traffic for some time.  Though frightened all passengers were quickly removed from the Blue Bird Bus and then placed on another bus to continue their planned trip to enjoy the attractions at the popular Belize Zoo. The alert driver says the fire started at the rear of the vehicle. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

This morning near the outskirts of Hattieville, a charter bus carrying forty-one cruise ship passengers went up in flames along the George Price Highway.  The Bluebird Bus, owned and operated by Premier Charter Tours on behalf of Chukka, was headed towards the Belize Zoo when the acrid smell of smoke permeated the rear of the vehicle.  The driver immediately pulled over to the shoulder of the road and ordered everyone out.  He then attempted to douse the flames using a fire extinguisher, to no avail.

 

Bus Driver, Premier Charter Tours

“When I reach around this area soh I sih wahn smoke and I hurry stop, right.  And when I hurry jump out and check di back part ah di bus because the engine deh da back, I sih wahn pool ah oil.  Da mussi dat same oil drop pan di machine and ih light it up.”

 

Reporter

“How long ago did this happen?”

 

Bus Driver

“About an hour ago.  I tried to out it, sih di fire extinguisher , ih done.”

 

Reporter

“I know you’re a man with a whole lot of experience.  How long have you been driving?”

 

Bus Driver

“About forty years.”

 

Reporter

“This is the first time something like this has happened?”

 

Bus Driver

“Yes.”

 

While it is the first time in all his years on the open road that the driver has experienced his vehicle catching fire, there have been concerns about the roadworthiness of these secondhand commuter buses.  The Ministry of Transport, in its National Transportation Master Plan has prescribed the use of coach buses on the highways.

 

Isani Cayetano

“What was the reaction of the tourists on the bus when they started to smell the smoke?”

 

Bus Driver

“When I sih di fire da back deh, I hurry tell di tourists fu mek dehn hurry come out right, or else the smoke will choke dehn and dehn gaan by di church deh and I di try hurry out it up but ah cyant.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“So another bus came to pick them up and take them on?”

 

Bus Driver

“Yes, dehn done gaan.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Where were they heading to?”

 

Bus Driver

“[The Belize] Zoo.”

 

When we caught up with the visitors at the Belize Zoo, they were all in high spirits, notwithstanding the scare moments earlier.  News Five attempted to speak with them but we were denied access. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

 

Chukka sent a statement late this evening. It states that at approximately 10:42 this morning, upon reaching mile seventeen on the George Price Highway, a tour bus bound for the Belize Zoo with thirty-nine adults and two children started to smoke. The lead tour guide immediately stopped the bus and guests were safely evacuated as per our standard operating procedure. All forty-one guests continued with their tour.  Chukka also says that it is investigating the cause of this incident. 


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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