LA PAZ – Twenty-four people were killed and 11 others injured on Monday when a bus collided with a truck in western Bolivia, police told EFE.
The director of transit and transportation in the Oruro region, Col. Victor Hugo Lizarazu, said that while the causes of the accident were still under investigation, rain might have been “an important factor.”
The injured were taken to various medical facilities in Oruro city, regional police commander Jose Pizarro told the media, adding that the death toll could rise.
Many of the survivors suffered serious injuries, he said.
Authorities have managed to conclusively identify 12 of the fatalities: six men, five women and a child, Pizarro said.
The collision occurred on the highway connecting the cities of Potosi and Oruro, Bolivia’s interior minister said during a press conference in La Paz.
With 45 people aboard, the bus was traveling from Villazon, a town on the border with Argentina, to La Paz, Carlos Romero said.
He said that the other vehicle, possibly a dump truck, was traveling in the opposite direction and apparently swerved into the lane occupied by the Trans Inca bus, whose left front section was destroyed.
The “Health Ministry and other agencies are monitoring (the situation) to support the affected families,” Romero said.
Radio Fides, citing a preliminary police report, said that the accident took place shortly before 4:00 am amid rain and dense fog on a stretch of road between Lake Poopo and Machacamarca.
President Evo Morales reacted to news of the latest deadly incident on Bolivian roads by ordering authorities to increase scrutiny of transportation firms and the drivers they employ.
“Our condolences and solidarity to the families. I have instructed the police to reinforce controls on companies and drivers, and told all authorities to be ready to collaborate in these emergencies,” the president wrote on Twitter.
Monday’s accident took place on the same highway where 22 people died and 37 others were hurt on Jan. 19 in a head-on collision between two buses.
Every year, traffic accidents claim an average of 1,000 lives in Bolivia and leave another 40,000 people injured, according to official data.