Thirty-seven people were killed in the country’s worst road tragedy, after a bus carrying 53 plunged into a 60m ravine near Genting Highlands around 2.45pm Wednesday.

The dead included 24 males and 13 females. Sixteen people were injured in the incident.

The 2.45pm accident happened when the ill-fated bus was descending a steep slope.

Fire and Rescue Department principal assistant director (Operations) Datuk Soiman Jahid said some 450 personnel from his department, the police and Civil Defence Department were involved in the search and rescue operation, which was finally called off at 10pm.

He said the cause of the accident had yet to be determined and that they had yet to interview witnesses.

“But the descent was very steep and if the bus was not controlled well, it could have skidded and plunged into the ravine. This is the initial assessment of the rescue team,” he said.

He said the dead included the driver of the bus.

It is believed that the driver lost control of the bus, which then rammed a divider before plunging down the gorge.

Some of the passengers were flung from the bus during the incident.

According to the police, more than half the passengers on the bus were foreigners, from China, Bangladesh and Thailand

The bus was also overloaded as its capacity was 44 passengers, authorities said.

There were 18 ambulances sent to crash site, and the first arrived at the scene at 5pm. All 37 casualties died at the scene.

The 16 survivors comprised seven Malaysians, three Indonesians, four Bangladeshis, one Thai national, and one Korean.

Six are in critical condition, and one has been declared safe.

The accident occurred at KM36 of the Genting-Kuala Lumpur road, some two kilometres from the Chin Swee Caves Temple, as the bus carrying 53 people was coming down from Genting Highlands and heading towards Kuala Lumpur.

-Photo and news from The Star