At least 22 people have been killed and 19 others injured in a horrific bus accident in northern Peru, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Information received from Peru’s national police department report that a fully loaded tour bus that was carrying more than 50 people was travelling in the province of Piura in northern Peru, in the Andean highlands. The accident occurred in the early hours of Monday morning, when the bus driver apparently seemed to lose control of the bus while taking a sharp curve on a mountainous pass. The bus skidded of the road and plunged 200m down a deep ravine.

The bus, which is reported to belong to the Civa transport and bus hire company, was travelling to Peru’s capital Lima from Piura when the accident occurred.

Police officials and rescue personnel are still attempting to rescue survivors and remove bodies from the wreckage. The rescue effort was made very challenging by the remote area in which the accident occurred, as well as the difficult location of the wreckage at the bottom of the ravine. In addition, the impact of the fall had led to the bus framework being twisted extensively, making it difficult to free passengers and bodies.

The bus driver was one of the fatalities in the accident, and died on the scene shortly after rescue personnel arrived. According to the national police department, a thorough investigation will be launched into the case in order to determine the exact course of the accident. The police are expected to interview some of the survivors once they have recovered, and are also gathering eye witness reports to aid the investigation.

Similar accidents to this tragedy occur frequently on the treacherous, winding roads through Peru’s Andean highlands. This accident is the second in less than a month, happening just two weeks after 14 people were killed in a similar bus accident in the southern region of Peru.

Peru is well known for its high rates of fatalities due to road accidents. On average, more than 50 000 people die and 500 000 people are injured on Peru’s roads each year.

Investigations into the high rates of fatal road accidents have revealed poor road conditions as the most common cause of road accidents in the country. However, drunk driving, unlicensed drivers and reckless driving by drivers, particularly those carrying passengers, contribute to an increased rate of accidents on poorly maintained roads.

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