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Peruvian bus hurtles over ‘devil’s’ cliff, kills at least 48

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Death toll from Peru bus accident rises.
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Rescue workers along a rocky cliff in Peru are looking for survivors of a horrific accident that killed at least 48 people Tuesday when a tractor-trailer slammed into a bus, sending the coach careening onto a beach 260 feet below.

The accident happened in the hard-to-reach area of Pasamayo, about 45 miles north of Lima, on a stretch of road known as Curva del Diablo (the devil’s bend). The Pacific Ocean road is considered one of the most dangerous in Peru.

“It’s very sad for us as a country to suffer an accident of this magnitude,” Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said in a statement.

Col. Dino Escudero, a Peruvian police official, said earlier in the day that at least 25 people were confirmed dead and that the death toll was likely to rise.

Twitter photos posted by Peruvian police show rescue workers looking for survivors along craggy rocks and on the beach, where the battered bus rested upside down near the shore line.

Transportation Minister Bruno Giuffra said initial reports indicated both vehicles involved were traveling at a high rate of speed at the time of the crash. As rescue operations continued late into the night, authorities announced a suspect had been detained for allegedly robbing belongings of victims.

The bus was carrying 57 passengers to Peru’s capital when it was struck by a tractor trailer shortly before noon and plunged down the slope, said Claudia Espinoza with Peru’s voluntary firefighter brigade.

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The serpentine road where the accident happened has no safety fences and is often laced with heavy fog coming off the nearby ocean, according to dangerousroads.org, which lists the roadway as “extremely dangerous.”

“The road is intended for heavy vehicles. Extremely dangerous with fog, between April and December. The road was bypassed by a new road called Ruta nacional PE-1. But the heavy traffic is still using this road,” according to dangerousroads.org’s analysis.

No road leads directly to the beach, complicating rescue efforts, Espinoza said, though police and firefighters managed to transport five survivors with serious injuries to a nearby hospital.

Traffic accidents are common along Peru’s roadways; more than 2,600 people were killed in 2016. More than three dozen died when three buses and a truck collided in 2015 on the main coastal highway. Twenty people were killed in November when a bus plunged off a bridge into a river in the southern Andes.

The passengers in Tuesday’s crash included many who were returning to Lima after celebrating the New Year’s holiday with family outside the city, Espinoza said.

Peru’s deadliest traffic crash on record happened in 2013 when a makeshift bus carrying 51 Quechua Indians back from a party in the southeastern region of the country fell off a cliff into a river, killing everyone on board.

CONTRIBUTING: Associated Press

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