LA PAZ – A bus ran off the road and plunged 350 meters (about 1,150 feet) to the bottom of a ravine near the Bolivian capital, resulting in 25 deaths, a senior police officer told EFE on Monday.
The commander of the highway patrol, Col. Fernando Rojas, said that the accident occurred near the town of Yolosita, some 90 km (56 miles) from La Paz in a mountainous zone.
Police and firefighters arrived at the Hospital de Clinicas morgue in La Paz with 23 bodies shortly after midday, while two other people died while they were being treated at the hospital in the town of Corioco, near the crash site.
Initial indications are that it was “driver error” that caused the crash, with the driver reportedly trying to pass a truck “and hitting the other vehicle” in the process, Rojas said.
Police initially reported that the bus, the truck and a third vehicle were involved in the crash.
According to Rojas, who went to the accident site, the bus “was completely destroyed, with the bodies ... scattered by the violence of the impact and plunging down (into the ravine).”
The vehicle was transporting 48 passengers from La Paz to the town of Rurrenabaque, in Bolivia’s northeastern Amazon region.
Three children, ages 2, 9 and 10, are among the dead, he added.
This is the “most serious” accident recorded in the province of La Paz so far this year, Col. Rojas said.
The majority of the 23 injured passengers are being cared for at the Corioco hospital, while 10 are receiving medical attention at the Arco Iris Hospital in La Paz.
Among the people taken to La Paz are two who are in the intensive care unit with “guarded” prognoses, an Arco Iris Hospital administrator, Marco Antonio Ortiz, told EFE.
Bolivian President Evo Morales in a Twitter message expressed his sadness at the “serious accident that occurred on the La Paz-Yungas highway.”
“Our condolences to the families of the dead. To the brother drivers, we ask you to always exercise great caution; protecting life is above everything,” the president said.
Accidents on Bolivian roadways each year kill about 1,000 people and injure some 40,000, according to government figures.