AL-MUKALLA: At least three passengers died and dozens more were injured, some seriously, after a bus carrying 47 people plunged off a cliff in Yemen.
The vehicle reportedly slid off a muddy road between the besieged city of Taiz and the southern port city of Aden, sparking renewed calls for an end to the Iran-backed Houthi siege of Taiz.
Local officials and media said the Mercedes-Benz coach, operated by Nur Transportation, was traveling down a steep road in Lahij governorate’s Al-Qabbaytah District on Saturday evening when the crash happened.
The poorly maintained route is regularly used by travellers trying to avoid Houthi checkpoints around Taiz.
The tragedy has prompted fresh calls from Taiz residents, Yemeni officials, and human rights activists for the international community to exert pressure on the Houthis to implement the terms of a UN-brokered truce.
Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni military officer in Taiz, told Arab News on Sunday that it was the Houthi blockade that was preventing free and safe travel between Aden and Lahij.
He said: “People go over treacherous, steep mountain trails owing to the Houthi blockade.”
The Houthis are required to partially lift their siege of Taiz under the terms of the UN-brokered truce, which began on April 2 and was twice extended, by opening at least one main highway and several minor roads in exchange for the Yemeni government facilitating the departure of commercial flights from Sanaa airport and allowing more fuel ships to pass through Hodeidah port.
Despite the opening of Sanaa airport and arrival of more than 50 fuel ships in Hodeidah, the Houthis have refused to open roads in Taiz and instead insisted on opening only one short, dirt track, causing the deal to collapse.
In a tweet about the bus crash, Ishraq Al-Maqtari, a spokesperson for the National Committee for Allegations of Human Rights Violations in Yemen, said: “Six months of ceasefire did not persuade the Houthis to open a route that would reduce civilian fatalities and losses.”
Separately, local military officials in Taiz reported that a civilian had been killed during random Houthi attacks on government forces and residential areas to the west and east of Taiz.