Singaporean Catholics involved in a road accident in Sabah, Malaysia, say they are thankful to God for helping them survive the ordeal.

They were involved in the June 3 accident after attending a June 1-3 Mandarin retreat at Pertapaan Karmel, Tambunan, in Keningau diocese.

According to a news report, a tour bus carrying 34 of the 58 retreatants had a suspected brake malfunction. It hit the bus in front, carrying the other retreatants, before overturning and crashing.

All 34 passengers in the first bus suffered injuries, with six seriously hurt.

The 24 passengers in other bus were reportedly uninjured.

Fifty-six passengers were Singaporeans while the remaining two were Malaysians working in Singapore.

The pilgrims were heading down a hilly road towards Kota Kinabalu when the accident occurred at around 4 pm, the report said.

The Singaporean pilgrims came from parishes such as the Church of St Francis of Assisi, Church of St Mary of the Angels and St Joseph Church (Bukit Timah), according to Ms Teresa Liu, who was in the first bus.

All the Singaporeans have returned home, except for one who remains hospitalised in Sabah, she said.

One passenger in the crashed bus, who gave his name as Michael, said he remembers the vehicle crashing into the other bus before swerving to the left, hitting the hill and overturning.

He remembers someone breaking the glass windows to help those trapped to escape. While he was waiting to receive medical attention, someone came to pray over him, he recalled.

Michael was later hospitalised overnight for a checkup. He told CatholicNews that he is grateful to God for being alive.

Ms Liu echoed similar sentiments. “I thank God for saving our lives,” she said.

She said she had feared for the safety of those passengers who were in their 70s and 80s, and her first prayer was “not to let the elderly folks be injured”.

Another survivor, Ms Mary Ooi, said, “It is definitely God who saved us.”

If “it wasn’t for God” the bus could have gone over a cliff, she said, adding that since the narrow escape, she has learnt to appreciate God’s gift of life better.

By Darren Boon
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