King Mswati III of Swaziland
JOHANNESBURG (AA) – Dozens of young girls in Swaziland were reportedly killed in a massive traffic pile-up on Friday while on their way to take part in a traditional dance ceremony, while local authorities have remained tight-lipped on the incident.
In a statement issued Saturday, the Swaziland Solidarity Network said that another 20 were injured when two trucks collided with a third vehicle on the highway between the Swazi cities of Mbabane and Manzini.
The girls were reportedly riding on the back of one of the trucks when the collision occurred.
“The loss of life was avoidable,” the rights group said in its statement. “To begin with, carrying people in trucks violates traffic laws.”
The solidarity group went on to call for the abolition of the annual Umhlanga reed dance ceremony — in which the ill-fated children were intending to take part — and for Swaziland’s royal family to help bury the dead.
According to the rights group, as many as 50 girls were on board one of the trucks, which collided with a Toyota van.
The Swazi authorities, for their part, have yet to provide any information about Friday’s deadly collision.
According to some news reports, police and local media have been ordered not to report the incident.
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