PIFO, Ecuador – A collision between a bus and an SUV on an Ecuadorian mountain highway some 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Quito on Tuesday left 24 people dead and 22 others injured.
The accident occurred at 2:55 am along a stretch of the Pifo-Papallacta highway known as the “curve of death.”
“We felt shaking like a violent earthquake, as if something was exploding. I ran out of there without my shoes on because of the scare... I went out on the balcony and saw people shouting, crying and begging for help,” Olga Guambi, 53, whose home was struck by the bus, told EFE.
The witness lives in a rickety two-story structure located right on the roadside, with a little restaurant on the ground floor that this morning was closed and full of broken glass and rubble from the shock.
Guambi said her son-in-law called the 911 emergency service and that rescuers and ambulances took an hour to get there.
The 24 fatalities included Colombian and Venezuelan nationals, the prosecutor who came to the accident scene to oversee the removal of the bodies told EFE.
According to preliminary investigations, the bus had a Colombian license plate and was en route to the Colombian municipality of Neiva from Lago Agrio, Ecuador, Silvana Garrido said.
Police Maj. Roberto Padilla said at the scene that the two vehicles slammed into each other and kept rolling together for about 1 kilometer (two-thirds of a mile).
“Then they came apart and the bus went on banging into the walls of houses before it turned over for its last deadly crash.
Among the dead were three minors who were riding in back seat of the SUV, according to the authorities.
Of the 22 injured, 13 are of Colombian nationality, six are Ecuadorians and three are Venezuelans. Of this group, four are in critical condition, Deputy Health Minister Carlos Duran said.