By Aurore Bonny
DOUALA, Cameroon (AA) - Mali will observe three days of national mourning in memory of 44 victims who died in a traffic accident, according to a presidential decree on Thursday.
"A three-day national mourning, starting Thursday, August 5, 2021 at midnight is declared throughout the national territory," the Malian presidency said on Twitter.
The fatal accident occurred on Tuesday in the locality of Zambougou, 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the capital of Bamako. The official death toll from the collision between a truck and a transport bus is 41, with 33 injured.
The identification of 80 victims continues.
Thirty-six people were injured, according to Mamadou Sangare, head of communications at the Nianankoro Fomba Hospital in the city of Segou, where victims were admitted.
He suggested the death toll could rise.
"Now in relation to the dead, the civil protection has brought back 40 bodies, but there are bodies that are totally shredded, so we cannot yet say what the figures are," Sangare told Anadolu Agency.
The accident occurred "on a road in very good condition" and "could be avoided simply by respecting the highway code," the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure said in a statement.
"Flags are being flown at half-mast on all public buildings and edifices for the duration of the mourning period," to pay tribute to the victims, said Assimi Goita, president of the nation’s transition committee after two coups there in less than a year.
The West African nation of more than 19 million saw 8,935 road accidents in 2019, with 663 people killed and 7,797 injured, according to the National Agency for Road Safety in Mali.
Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Dembele Madina Sissoko said the government will take "all necessary measures to prevent such accidents from happening again."