A tragic incident unfolded in Peru during the early hours of Monday, claiming the lives of at least 24 individuals when a bus veered off a treacherous mountain road and plummeted down a steep slope. The ill-fated journey began in Ayacucho, located in the south-central region of the country, with the destination set for Huancayo, the capital of the Junin region. The devastating crash occurred at approximately 1:30 am local time (06:30 GMT).
Reports from local media indicate that the bus rolled multiple times as it tumbled down the rugged mountainous terrain in the Huancavelica area. Manuel Zevallos Pacheco, the mayor of the Anco district, revealed to RPP news outlet that the bus plunged a staggering 150 meters (492 feet).
The regional government of Ayacucho reported that 11 injured passengers received medical attention at the Huanta Support Hospital, while estimations from La Republica suggest that the total number of wounded could potentially reach as high as 36.
Peru’s transportation authority, SUTRAN, expressed condolences for the victims and pledged to investigate the incident. Preliminary findings indicate that the bus possessed the necessary authorization for passenger transport, including mandatory accident insurance and a successful vehicle inspection. SUTRAN emphasized its commitment to overseeing compliance with federal regulations and stated that it continues to carry out its investigative duties.
The bus route is operated by Molina Union, which confirmed the tragic death toll to Reuters but refrained from providing further details.
This unfortunate incident adds to a series of deadly accidents on Peru’s roads, exacerbated by the challenging terrain of the Andes Mountains. For instance, in January, a bus carrying 60 passengers plunged off a cliff in northern Peru, resulting in at least 24 fatalities, according to preliminary reports. In 2021, a rash of fatal accidents involving passenger vehicles occurred in just four days, including two bus crashes. One bus careened into a ravine in the southeastern part of the country, while another toppled off a cliff approximately 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the capital, Lima. Authorities investigating the latter accident cited “recklessness” and “high speed” as contributing factors, raising questions about the adequacy of training for bus drivers navigating these winding mountain roads.
Mayor Zevallos Pacheco expressed frustration in an interview with RPP, alleging that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications had not adequately addressed a recent avalanche on the same roadway as Monday’s tragic crash, suggesting a possible link between the incidents.
RPP also reported an alarming increase in traffic accidents in Peru in recent years, with injuries surging from 38,447 in 2020 to 53,544 in 2022. Additionally, the number of traffic-related fatalities reached 3,311 as of the previous year, indicating a pressing need for improved road safety measures.