LA PAZ – At least 28 people were killed and 44 others injured when a bus traveling from the central city of Cochabamba to the southwestern city of Potosi plunged into a ravine early Sunday, Bolivian police said.
The TransUncia company bus, which was carrying 70 passengers, went off the road near the Pongo K’asa area around 1:30 a.m. due to brake failure, Cochabamba police commander Col. Hernan Trujillo said.
The driver’s assistant told passengers to move into the back of the bus because the brakes were not working, injured passengers said.
Most of the injured were taken to clinics in Quillacollo, but those with serious injuries were transported to a hospital in Cochabamba.
One child was killed and 16 others were injured in the accident, Trujillo said.
The bus driver, identified as Roberto Gandarillas, tried to run away after the accident but was arrested and tested to determine whether he had been drinking, the official Patria Nueva radio reported.
Investigators are trying to determine whether the bus was overloaded because the passenger list included only 46 people.
A traffic accident in the same area at the beginning of the year left 22 people dead and 37 others injured.
Sunday’s accident occurred just days after 12 people were killed and at least 30 others injured when an El Dorado company bus plying the same route crashed.
The El Dorado bus, which was carrying more than 50 people, was speeding at the time of the accident last Thursday, media reports said, citing police.
The bus went into a ravine near Bombeo, a town in Cochabamba, police said.
Bus driver Raul Calle has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and faces three to six years in prison if convicted, the Los Tiempos newspaper reported Sunday.
The June 24 accident sparked debate about the safety of roads and transportation companies in Bolivia.