Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bus Tragedy Kills 22

A tradgic bus accident on the road between Cochabamba and La Paz has left between 22 and 24 people dead and 28 injured in the Pongo K’asa sector on kilometer 98 from the Challuma bridge. The accident
occurred at night at 1:45AM as the bus was descending a steep decline its brakes failed and it smashed into a smaller car and tumbled 70 meters off the road down a long embankment into a riverbed. The bus pertained to the small private bus company named “Bolivia”. The brakes had shown signs of failure earlier in the trip and the surviving passengers told the media of how they had banged on the sides of the bus multiple times demanding to be let out but that the driver refused to stop. At one point the driver stopped to pick up six additional passengers who sat in the center aisle until the accident. The bus stopped on the side of the road several times due to mechanical failures during and the driver attempted to make superficial repairs without allowing the passengers to disembark. After several close calls in which the passengers angrily protested and banged to be let out, the accident occurred on a steep downhill. Cochabamba’s many hospitals refused to send ambulances and the dead and injured were carried back to the city by a mixture of private vehicles and other buses until twenty firefighters arrived from SAR-Bolivia. It is unclear if the bus, which is owned by Eduardo Aguilar, passed its annual inspection at one of the 8 licensed mechanics shops in Cochabamba. Accidents like this are not uncommon in Bolivia where poorly maintained buses are often driven dangerously by their drivers.

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