51 killed in Peru’s deadliest road accident

LIMA – The death toll in a catastrophic bus crash in Peru has risen to 51, making it one of the deadliest vehicle accidents in the nation’s history.

Peru’s Health Ministry announced Wednesday that all the bodies had been recovered from the wreckage of the bus that plummeted 100m (330ft) down a cliff and landed upside down on a rocky beach.

Six people had survived the accident, one of whom had jumped from the bus before it fell after colliding with a lorry.

The accident happened on a notorious stretch of road known as Curva del Diablo (devil’s bend) in Pasamayo, north of the capital Lima. It has no barriers separating it from a sheer drop to the ocean and the sea spray and frequent fog can make it particularly slippery.

“Thirty bodies have been recovered and six are trapped,” said Colonel Dino Escudero, head of the police highway patrol division.

A police helicopter winched some rescue workers down to the wreck of the blue bus while others made the precarious journey down on foot with the assistance of ropes.

Footage showed rescue workers struggling to reach the bus, with a helicopter winching down some emergency workers while others were lowered down the cliff with ropes.

Local media reported that one of the passengers managed to survive by jumping out of the coach before it plunged down the cliff.

The doctor in the hospital where 24-year-old Máximo Jiménez Vilcayaure was being treated for a broken arm said the man had jumped out of a window and onto the tarmac with seconds to spare.

Five other survivors were pulled from the wreckage and were being treated for multiple fractures.

Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said it was “painful for the whole country to suffer an accident of this magnitude”.

He sent a message of “deep solidarity” to the families of the victims.

More than 2,500 people died in traffic accidents in Peru in 2016, according to official figures.