22 killed in Iran bus crash

TEHRAN, June 26, 2006 (AFP) – At least 22 people were killed and 18 injured in eastern Iran Monday when a passenger bus collided with a truck, state television reported.

The accident occurred in the early hours between the towns of Birjand and Nehbandan in South Khorasan province, which borders Afghanistan. Police said the truck had apparently drifted into the lane of the oncoming bus.

Iran’s roads are considered to be among the most dangerous in the world, with police anticipating the annual death toll will rise to 31,000 from around 28,000 according to the most recent statistics.

Decrepit vehicles — many of them more than 20 years old — as well as poor road conditions, general contempt for driving laws and the reckless behavior of bus or truck drivers who are often under the influence of drugs, are blamed for the high death toll.