At least 48 people died when a bus tumbled down a cliff onto a rocky beach Tuesday along a narrow, curvy, and frequently mist-shrouded stretch of highway known as the "Devil's Curve," Peruvian police and fire officials said. The bus carrying 57 people was headed to Peru's capital when it was struck by a tractor trailer shortly before noon and plunged an estimated 260 feet down the slope, says Claudia Espinoza with Peru's voluntary firefighter brigade. The blue bus came to rest upside down on a strip of shore next to the Pacific, the lifeless bodies of passengers strewn among the rocks. "It's very sad for us as a country to suffer an accident of this magnitude," Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said in a statement, per the AP.
Rescuers had to struggle to rescue survivors and recover the dead from the hard-to-reach area in Pasamayo, about 43 miles north of Lima. No road leads directly to the beach, complicating rescue efforts, Espinoza says. Police and firefighters used helicopters to transport six survivors with serious injuries to nearby hospitals. Col. Dino Escudero says 48 people are confirmed dead and at least three are missing. Transportation Minister Bruno Giuffra says initial reports indicate both vehicles involved were traveling at a high rate of speed at the time of the crash. The accident nearly rivals the nation's deadliest traffic crash on record, which happened in 2013. A makeshift bus carrying 51 Quechua Indians back from a party in southeastern Peru fell off a cliff into a river, killing everyone on board.