48 killed as bus falls from cliff onto rocky beach in Peru
03 Jan 2018, 13:49 | updated: 03 Jan 2018, 14:31
At least 48 people have died after a bus tumbled down a cliff onto a rocky beach, Peruvian police and fire officials said.
The bus, which was travelling along a narrow stretch of highway known as the ‘Devil’s Curve’, was carrying 57 passengers to Peru‘s capital when it was struck by a tractor trailer shortly before noon, reports The Independent.
It plunged down the slope and came to rest upside down on a strip of shore next to the Pacific, the lifeless bodies of passengers strewn among the rocks.
‘It’s very sad for us as a country to suffer an accident of this magnitude,’ Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said in a statement.
Rescuers struggled to pull out victims from the hard-to-reach area in Pasamayo, about 40 miles north of Lima.
No road leads directly to the beach, complicating rescue efforts, though police and firefighters managed to transport six survivors with serious injuries to nearby hospitals by helicopter.
Traffic accidents are common along Peru’s roadways, with more than 2,600 people killed in 2016. More than three dozen died when three buses and a truck collided in 2015 on the main costal highway. Twenty people were killed in November when a bus plunged off a bridge into a river in the southern Andes.
The nation’s deadliest traffic crash on record happened in 2013 when a makeshift bus carrying 51 Quechua Indians back from a party in southeastern Peru fell off a cliff into a river, killing everyone on board.
The passengers in Tuesday’s crash included many returning to Lima after celebrating the New Year’s holiday with family outside the city.
The highway is known as the ‘Devil’s Curve’ because it is narrow, frequently shrouded in mist and curves along a cliff that has seen numerous accidents. Police said the bus fell an estimated 80 metres.
Miguel Sidia, a transportation expert in Peru, said that while road conditions in the Andean nation have improved in recent years, lack of driver education and little enforcement of road rules still lead to many fatalities each year.
He called on authorities to immediately conduct studies into building a new highway farther from the cliff where the accident occurred.
‘As a Peruvian, it’s shameful,’ he said.