At least 26 people have been killed and 15 others injured in a horrific bus accident in Colombia, say officials.
The accident occurred at approximately midnight on Monday night, while the bus was transporting tourists to a coffee fair in the central region of Colombia. The bus was one of a number of vehicles travelling from Bogota to the fair near the city of Cali in convoy. There were 31 passengers on the bus at the time, according to highway police commander Francisco Patino. The Colombia Civil Defense Corps confirmed that the death toll from the accident has reached 26, making it one of the deadliest bus accidents in Colombia’s history.
The bus driver, who survived the accident with minor injuries, said that the brakes failed on the bus, causing the accident. According to a member of the Colombia National Fire Department, Jorge Riobueno, the bus driver attempted to slow down the bus and regain control using the gears after the brakes failed. However, the driver was unable to control the bus which swerved while turning a curve, causing the bus to tip over the guardrail and onto the side of the highway.
Rescue workers who responded to the accident scene worked tirelessly for hours to free injured passengers and the bodies of the deceased from the mangled wreckage of the bus. Television news footage showed debris including shoes, clothing and luggage scattered around an agricultural field at the scene of the crash.
Felipe Ruiz, a passenger who survived the accident, described the moments before the accident from her hospital bed. Ruiz said that she and several other passengers started to pray as the bus careened down a hill and towards the curve. According to other passengers in the party, the bus driver had complained about the brakes of the bus in the first leg of their journey, and had contacted the bus company. However the company had failed to send a replacement bus.
According to Col. Flavio Meza, the chief police officer for the state of Cundinamarca, an investigation into the exact circumstances surrounding the incident is continuing.
Buses are the most common form of public transportation in Colombia, and deadly bus accidents on Colombia’s mountainous roads are common. This accident comes just two weeks after eight people were killed and 11 were injured after their bus flipped over on a highway 200km west of Bogota earlier this month.