At least 14 people have been killed and a further 38 people were injured after a loaded passenger bus veered off the side of a cliff in a region of southern Peru, said members of the Peru National Highway Police on Sunday.
According to the official police reports, the accident occurred late on Saturday evening, just before midnight. The bus was en route from the capital of the southern state of Arequipa, also called Arequipa, towards the town of Camana. Approximately 100 kilometers outside of Camana, the bus driver appeared to lose control of the vehicle. The bus plunged off the side of the South Pan-American Highway and down a 200 meter high cliff, where it rolled multiple times before coming to rest.
Although a thorough investigation into the causes of the accident is still ongoing, authorities say that preliminary investigations indicate that dense fog that covered the mountainous road that evening is likely to have played a role in causing the accident. Poor visibility also may have played a role.
Police have revealed that the bus was operated by the Lucerito transport company, a Peru based bus company.
First responders arrived on the scene approximately an hour after the accident occurred, and had difficulty reaching the wreckage of the bus which was precariously perched in the 200 meter deep abyss. Rescue workers worked for hours to extract the bodies of the deceased and free the injured survivors from the wreckage. The injured were transported via ambulance to the emergency center at a hospital in Camana, with a number of the more seriously injured passengers transported to a tertiary level hospital in the regional capital of Arequipa, according to local media reports.
Members of the police and staff from the Public Ministry have visited the accident scene to assist first responders in rescuing the injured and removing the bodies of the dead. The bodies that were recovered have been transported to a morgue in the region to be identified by next of kin.
The Arequipa region has been experiencing heavy downpours of rain over the last few weeks, that have caused flooding and structural damage to roads and other important parts of the local infrastructure.
The management of Lucerito transport company have not responded to calls from the media with regard to the accident, but are expected to make a statement later in the week. There is no evidence that the bus driver was driving recklessly at the time of the accident.