At least twelve passengers have been killed and a further 23 people injured after a passenger bus plunged into a ravine in Mexico.

The bus was carrying a group of senior residents from an old age home in the province of Tlaxcala, to the province of Mazatlan on the Pacific coastline, where they were planning to attend a Christian conference.

According to the Durango state civil defense spokesperson, Mr. Arturo Galindo, twelve passengers have been confirmed dead, with 22 passengers injured, a number seriously so.

Eye witness reports claim that the bus was coming around a sharp bend on a highway in the mountainous province of Durango, when it veered off the side of the road and plunged more than 165 feet into a deep ravine close to the Sierra Madre. The incident occurred at around 11.30am on Friday the 17th of August.

The driver of the bus, as well as the tour guide and the driver’s assistant, were all killed on impact. The other victims included four men and eight women, who were all between the ages of 58 and 65. All of the deceased have been officially identified and their next of kin have been notified.

Emergency services responded promptly to the scene of the accident, helping to free bodies and survivors from the wreckage. A large crowd soon gathered on the highway above the ravine, and had to be dispersed by police troops.

Those injured in the accident were transported by ambulance and helicopter to local ambulances in the Durango province, while the deceased were collected by coroner services.

According to a report released by the Mexican government on  Saturday, Tlaxcala officials are sending a delegation to the region to provide assistance and support to the injured and the families of the deceased.

This tragic bus accident occurs just less than a month after another fatal bus crash that left 26 people dead, adding to the high death toll on Mexican roads this summer. Mexican president Felipe Calderon had cautioned road traffic users earlier last week about safe driving. In his statement, President Calderon mentioned that around 16000 people die on Mexico’s roads each year, making this country the seventh most deadly place to drive in the world.

Local authorities are still investigating the cause of the accident, and it remains to be seen whether it was driver error, negligence or an oversight on the part of the bus company that contributed to the fatal crash.

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