Woodbridge: Girls tell of horrific bus crash ordeal in Vietnam

TWO Suffolk students have relived the moments they feared they would die as their bus overturned on a mountain pass in Vietnam.

Yasmeen Olafsson, of Heathfields, Martlesham Heath, near Ipswich, sustained facial injuries which required surgery and 20 stitches, along with a broken rib, and a fractured nose, during the accident at around 4am on Friday, July 13.

Her friend Ellen Gardner, of Hope Crescent, Woodbridge, escaped with a badly bruised left leg.

The 20-year-olds were three weeks in to a six-week travelling holiday when the crash happened. Reports from Vietnam state at least 13 foreign tourists were injured.

The women agreed to speak about their ordeal because they wanted to warn other travellers to thoroughly research the safety of buses abroad before booking tickets.

The former Farlingaye High School pupils believe the bus – an overnight sleeper with bunk beds – was going too fast when it clipped something in the dark on the Co Ma mountain pass in the central province of Khanh Hoa.

The collision caused the bus to lurch from side to side before toppling over and sliding along the road, leading to Yasmeen’s face and hand scraping the ground.

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As a result she has had to have a skin graft on her chin and faces further reconstructive surgery.

Ellen, a medicine student at Leeds University, said: “I feel lucky to have survived. Everyone was screaming. I think everyone just thought we were going to die.

“We all thought we were going over the edge of the mountain. The second we stopped sliding along there was silence.

“Someone had broken through a window in the ceiling. I was stuck underneath a bed. Someone had to help me out. I got Yas out and we clambered out bit by bit as people were getting pulled out.

“I would advise people to research how they are going travel. If we had known how dangerous these buses could be we would never have got on one.”

Yasmeen, a microbiology student at the University of Nottingham, was awoken by the bus lurching.

She said: “I was on the left-hand side of the bus. My face smashed into a window and skidded against the ground. To get my face off the ground I put my hand down. I don’t really remember much. I think I must have got knocked out [momentarily].

“Ellie told me to climb out. I remember when we came out of the bus everyone else was already out.”

The women said while the injured passengers were at the roadside, people on motorbikes stole luggage as they went by, without stopping to help.

After an hour an ambulance van took the girls to a roadside clinic.

Yasmeen said: “It was awful. They gave me stitches with no anaesthetic or painkillers.”

They then waited seven hours for transport to a hospital, where Yasmeen said her wounds had to be re-stitched properly.

The pair returned to England on Monday last week.

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