34 young Christians killed in horrific bus crash on their way to pilgrimage in Madagascar


At least 34 young Christians are reported to have been killed in a tragic accident on their way to pilgrimage in Madagascar. 

Authorities said Tuesday that the bus was carrying the Christian group when it plunged down a steep ravine at Ankazobe, around 45 miles north of Madagascar's capital, Antananarivo.

Police spokesman Herilalatiana Andrianarisaona told AFP that the accident caused the bus to catch on fire.  Photos from the scene showed the crumpled wreckage of the bus lying on its side.

'The bus struggled to climb a road on a hill and fell down a ravine about 20 metres deep,' he said.  ''It caught fire after rolling several times.'

Twelve of the bodies discovered at the site were badly burned, the Daily Mail reports, but local hospitals confirmed at least 22 more deaths.

The organiser of the trip was named by The Sun as Pastor Saholy who said the crash happened at around midnight local time on Monday night. 

He was quoted by the newspaper as saying: 'We were 140 people on board of a big bus.

'We are members of an association of young Christians and we were on the road to attend a pilgrimage in Mahajanga (350 miles north-west of Antananarivo) on Wednesday, when the drama happened.'

According to the Xinhua news agency, the country's President Hery Rajaonarimampianina visited survivors at a hospital in Ankazobe and pledged financial support for families of the survivors and victims.