At least nine people were killed and four missing when a bus and two other vehicles plunged into a ravine in a mountainous region of Costa Rica, the Red Cross said Sunday.
A bus, car and motorcycle slid into the 75-meter-deep (245-foot) canyon Saturday when heavy rain triggered a landslide in the El Hondimento Pass, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of the capital, San Jose.
Rescue services pulled about 50 survivors, including the bus driver, from the gorge, according to Costa Rica’s Social Security in charge of the country’s public health services.
“So far, we know of nine people who do not have vital signs,” the Red Cross wrote on Twitter after the incident, adding that four people were still missing.
The bus was traveling between San Jose and Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province with 47 people on board, German carrier owner Alvaro told the Costa Rican daily La Nacion.
The Red Cross had earlier estimated the number of passengers at about 60 passengers.
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Pictures released by rescue services showed the wreckage of the bus at the bottom of a valley in a mountainous area of Costa Rica, where rescue efforts have been particularly difficult.
Local residents in the area said the cause of the accident was the lack of protective barriers or signage along the road.
“We dumped years ago,” Gilber Martinez told TV station Canal 7.
But the government described the incident as “unpredictable”.
“This is not the fault of the government or the bus company. It is something we cannot predict,” Public Works and Transport Minister Luis Amador said.
Specialists from the University of Costa Rica released a report in March warning of the danger of road collapses in the region.
Costa Rican President Rodrigo Chavez declared three days of national mourning and said he would not attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York due to the state of emergency in his country due to heavy rain.