A Mekong Express coach en route to Ho Chi Minh City from Phnom Penh overturned in Svay Rieng province on Monday when the driver fell asleep at the wheel, leaving 37 passengers with slight injuries, including 29 foreigners, police and a company official said.
The bus rolled onto its side in Svay Chrum district at about 11:30 a.m., after the bus driver dozed off, but did not collide with any other vehicles, according to deputy district police chief Vann Sophanna.
“The bus overturned and caused 37 passengers, including 29 Western nationals, to get injured, but all of them were slightly injured,” he said. “After the accident, the driver escaped and police impounded the bus at the provincial police headquarters.”
Mr. Sophanna did not provide further details about the crash, saying only that most of the passengers were either transferred to other buses to complete their trip or picked up by relatives.
Provincial traffic police chief Uch Sarorn said officers were now trying to find the driver.
“We are searching for the driver because he escaped after the accident,” Mr. Sarorn said, declining to comment further.
Saingtha Havisey, an assistant to the president of Mekong Express, said the driver had not run away, but rather sought medical care in Phnom Penh, and that the company dispatched a representative to speak to police in Svay Rieng.
“This morning, me and my staff were surprised about this accident, because our buses have never rolled over like that, and those buses were bought from Japan and are of high quality,” Ms. Havisey said.
“I don’t want to believe it,” she added. “I don’t want to believe that our driver got sleepy, because this driver would not drink beer or go out at night and get sleepy like this. He is a person who loves his health.”
Ms. Havisey declined to provide the driver’s name or contact details, but acknowledged that the crash would likely affect the bus company’s reputation among foreign tourists.
“That is normal when we have an accident like this,” she said.