Bus Plunges Into 600-Foot Canyon, Killing 44

3 babies among the dead in Guatemala crash

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Sep 9, 2013 5:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – A bus plunged into a deep river canyon in northwestern Guatemala today, leaving at least 44 people dead, according to officials. An additional 46 people were injured and taken to hospitals, says Mario Cruz, a spokesman for the volunteer fire department in the area. At the accident site, medical personnel were conducting autopsies on the dead, which showed multiple injuries. Cruz says about 90 people were aboard the Guatemala City-bound bus, which had an official capacity of 54 passengers. The dead included at least three babies.

The bus fell into a river at the bottom of the 600-foot canyon around 8:15am in the town of San Martin Jilotepeque, apparently after the driver lost control on a curve. "From what we see, the bus crashed against a wall of rocks first and then fell into the cliff," says the local mayor. The area has mostly dirt roads that wind through steep mountains without guardrails or other safety measures.

An unidentified woman is comforted as she weeps for a dead relative who was a passenger on a bus that plunged into a deep river canyon in San Martin Jilotepeque, northwest Guatemala.
An unidentified woman is comforted as she weeps for a dead relative who was a passenger on a bus that plunged into a deep river canyon in San Martin Jilotepeque, northwest Guatemala.   (AP Photo / Luis Soto)
Residents watch as a body is recovered from the bottom of a canyon after a bus, carrying about 80 passengers, plunged into a deep river canyon in in San Martin Jilotepeque, northwest Guatemala.
Residents watch as a body is recovered from the bottom of a canyon after a bus, carrying about 80 passengers, plunged into a deep river canyon in in San Martin Jilotepeque, northwest Guatemala.   (AP Photo / Luis Soto)
Evidence markers sit atop the bodies of passengers who were traveling in a bus that plunged into a deep river canyon in San Martin Jilotepeque, northwest Guatemala.
Evidence markers sit atop the bodies of passengers who were traveling in a bus that plunged into a deep river canyon in San Martin Jilotepeque, northwest Guatemala.   (AP Photo / Luis Soto)
A rescuer carries the body of a baby after the bus the baby was traveling in plunged into a deep river canyon in San Martin Jilotepeque, northwest Guatemala.
A rescuer carries the body of a baby after the bus the baby was traveling in plunged into a deep river canyon in San Martin Jilotepeque, northwest Guatemala.   (AP Photo / Luis Soto)
Rescue workers remove a body of a passenger who was traveling in a bus that plunged into a deep river canyon in San Martin Jilotepeque, northwest Guatemala.
Rescue workers remove a body of a passenger who was traveling in a bus that plunged into a deep river canyon in San Martin Jilotepeque, northwest Guatemala.   (AP Photo / Luis Soto)
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