UPDATED: Two persons were killed and nine others injured when two buses collided on a county road in Sogndal Monday afternoon. On Tuesday, police charged one of the bus drivers with reckless driving.
One of the victims was a tourist from Taiwan traveling on a Swedish-registered bus with a large group of Taiwanese visitors. The driver of her bus, which collided with a Norwegian bus operating in normal scheduled service, was charged with negligence after investigators determined that he had crossed over into the oncoming lane.
The road is among those being used as an alternate route following a fire that forced closure of a tunnel on the E16 highway. The head of the Swedish bus company, Bergkvarabuss, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Monday that the road, County Highway 55, should never have been used for bus traffic because it’s too narrow. That charge was later refuted by highway authorities.
Some of the victims were flown to Haukeland Hospital in Bergen. There were a total of 30 persons on the two buses, NRK reported, and the other victim was a Norwegian woman from Ålesund.
Other passengers were suffering shock and were being assisted by a crisis team in Sogndal. Two of the other tourists from Taiwan were critically injured and and another six were also sent to hospital.
A spokesman for the state highway department denied the county highway was too narrow for two trucks or buses to pass. “There is no problem for heavy vehicles to use that road,” Ove Amundsen of Vegtrafikksentralen told newspaper Bergens Tidende.
The accident closed the road for several hours on Monday evening. State officials and inspectors were called in to investigate its cause. The driver of the Norwegian bus was not charged, based on accounts from both passengers and the two drivers.