Cyprus Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades has ordered an investigation into the incident of a moving school bus catching fire in Aglandjia on Friday morning, which did not cause any injuries to the 40 students onboard at the time.
Talking on state radio CyBC, Vafeades said he was seriously concerned over the incident, pointing out that this was the fourth occurrence of a moving bus catching fire this year.
He assured that the authorities would conduct a thorough investigation into the matter.
While describing this year’s first incident as an ‘accident’ and the second due to ‘unfortunate timing’, Vafeades underscored that the subsequent incidents raise additional concerns.
He revealed that he has urged the three relevant departments within the Ministry to conduct a thorough investigation in collaboration with the police and provide regular updates on their findings.
Vafeades pointed out that the root cause of these bus fires appears to be related to electrical issues, which have not been adequately addressed during checks at the Vehicle Technical Inspection Centres (TOM).
The minister emphasised that previous investigations into bus incidents failed to shed light into such issues, as the buses involved were completely destroyed by fire.
Highlighting the ministry’s commitment to public safety, Vafeades announced plans to call on the bus operator to subject all buses to comprehensive inspections to prevent future incidents.
Vafeades pointed out that, “the responsibility to check for electrical faults lies with the bus companies, but this does not diminish the ministry’s commitment to ensuring public safety”.
The latest incident occurred on Friday morning, when a fire erupted in a school bus while it was in motion at the Filoxenia roundabout on Aglandjia Avenue.
The bus, carrying 40 students, was safely evacuated after a vigilant motorist trailing behind noticed smoke emanating from the vehicle’s rear and notified the driver to stop.
The fire department confirmed that the fire originated in the engine compartment and spread internally. The Acropolis fire station promptly responded with two fire engines, bringing the situation under control shortly after 7.30 am.
Investigations into the causes of the fire are underway by the police and the state electromechanical services. Minister Vafeades indicated that competent state agencies would conduct a follow-up investigation on-site after receiving the police findings.