At least 44 die in Peru after bus plunges into ravine

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LIMA (Reuters) - At least 44 people died in Peru on Wednesday when a bus hurtled some 100 meters into a ravine in the mountainous south in the country’s second major bus crash this year, a local official said.

“According to a report from the Peruvian National Police, there are 44 confirmed deaths as of now,” Yamila Osorio, the governor of the Arequipa region, wrote on Twitter.

The bus was carrying some 45 passengers, according to operator Rey Latino, but police said the figure was likely higher because additional passengers boarded along the route and did not appear in the initial register.

The crash occurred on a curve on the Panamericana Sur highway in the Ocona district. Road accidents are common in Peru, where roads are considered unsafe and bus drivers lack training.

“My condolences to the relatives of the victims of the transit accident in Arequipa,” President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski wrote on Twitter. “We have taken all steps to provide immediate rescue support and transfer victims to the closest health centers so they can be attended immediately.”

At least 48 people died in early January when a bus collided with a truck and careened off a cliff near the area of Pasamayo on the Pacific coast.

Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Caroline Stauffer and Luc Cohen; Editing by David Gregorio and Leslie Adler