19 killed in Argentina bus accident

Buenos Aires, Feb 19 (IANS) At least 19 people were killed and 21 injured in Argentina when a bus heading to neighbouring Chile overturned in the country’s Mendoza province.

The bus, belonging to Chilean company Turbus, crashed on Saturday as it was going round a curve at high speed, according to a survivor, Xinhua news agency reported.

“It was going very fast, the driver had no experience and he didn’t know the route,” passenger Leandro Torres said, according to the national news agency Telam.

The daily La Nacion later reported the vehicle’s speedometer “registered 100 kmph at the time of the accident,” confirming the driver had ignored signs setting the speed limit at 40 kph at the turn.

The “Curva del Yeso” is one of 10 dangerous curves identified by the National Gendarmerie along that highway, the daily said, calling the incident “the biggest roadway tragedy in the history of Mendoza.”

Torres said he was riding in the middle of the bus, which was carrying 40 passengers, and had fallen asleep.

“I woke up when the bus was already airborne, and I felt the blow,” Torres added.

In a statement, the bus company defended the driver and his assistant, who have been detained by authorities, saying “they rest well before each departure and know the route very well.”

The passenger list included 32 Argentinians, four Chileans, a Haitian and a Colombian, as well as the drivers.

The injured were taken to hospitals.

–IANS

pgh/

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