Thursday, July 1, 2010

Another plunge in Peru

LIMA – A bus plunged into a ravine in the southeastern Peruvian region of Cuzco, killing five people and injuring 40 others, the official Andina news agency reported Monday.

The bus went off a highway and into a 100-meter (327-foot) ravine Sunday night in Wanchaq district, near the Ninamarca archaeological site.

A 6-year-old boy, three women and a farmer died in the accident, Andina said.

The bus was carrying teachers from the Serapio Calderon de Paucartambo School and the majority of the injured are believed to be teachers who were returning to work after the weekend, a police spokesman told Andina.

The Channel N television station reported a higher casualty figure, saying that 50 people were taken to two hospitals and a private clinic in Cuzco.

The accident was apparently caused by mechanical problems, the police spokesman said.

Traffic accidents killed 3,500 people last year, left 46,000 others injured and caused $1 billion in losses.

Road accidents have killed 30,000 people in the past eight years in the Andean nation.

Peru, which has many problems with its roads and a large number of old vehicles, has the highest death rate from traffic accidents in Latin America – 30 deaths per 10,000 vehicles annually, a report released last December said.

The National Ombudsman’s Office says there are “profound weaknesses” in the government’s ability to prevent traffic accidents in Peru.

Experts contend the accident rate in Peru’s interior is extremely high due to the poor condition of roads, an obsolete bus fleet and drivers who obtain licenses on the “black market” by paying between $30 and $50. EFE

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