Bus Crash in Ecuador Kills 24 People, Injures 22

August 14, 2018 Updated: August 14, 2018

QUITO, Ecuador—A bus apparently lost its brakes, then hit another vehicle at high speed and rolled over four times, killing at least 24 people and injuring 22 while smashing into several houses along a highway near Ecuador’s capital early Aug. 14, officials said.

The Colombian-registered bus was traveling to Quito when it hit a smaller vehicle in an area known as dead man’s curve at about 3 a.m., Ecuadorean authorities said.

Photos of the scene were released from the official Twitter account of Ecuador’s national police soon after the incident.

Residents described hearing a thundering noise like the world crashing down on them as the bus struck their homes.

Police officers prepare salvage a vehicle that collided with a Colombian-registered bus traveling to Quito, in Pifo, Ecuador, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. At least 24 people were killed and another 19 injured when a bus careened into another vehicle at high speed and overturned along the Pifo-Papallacta highway, near Ecuador’s capital, local officials reported. (AP/Carlos Noriega)

Michelle Manay said she woke up and ran outside to see the carnage. “There were some people alive and others who weren’t,” she said.

Col. Wilson Pavon, head of Ecuador’s transit police, said the majority of the passengers aboard were Colombians, but some Venezuelans were also among the dead. Three people, including two minors, traveling in the smaller vehicle also died.

A small fleet of ambulances and first responders rushed to the crash site about two hours from Quito before dawn. They found the severely wrecked bus overturned and several homes adjacent to the highway damaged and strewn with metal debris.

A police officer walks past a Colombian-registered bus traveling to Quito that crashed in Pifo, Ecuador, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. At least 24 people were killed and another 19 injured when a bus careened into another vehicle at high speed and overturned along the Pifo-Papallacta highway, near Ecuador’s capital, local officials reported. (AP/Carlos Noriega)

Gen. Patricio Carillo of the Ecuadorean police told local reporters that it appeared the bus’s brakes failed, causing the driver to lose control and hit an oncoming car before crashing into poles and houses as it rolled.

The investigation was continuing and the driver is hospitalized among the injured, Carillo said.

Officials spent the early morning combing through the bus and removing the victims.

Police officers block traffic at the site where a Colombian-registered bus traveling to Quito crashed in Pifo, Ecuador, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. At least 24 people were killed and another 19 injured when a bus careened into another vehicle at high speed and overturned along the Pifo-Papallacta highway, near Ecuador’s capital, local officials reported. (AP/Carlos Noriega)

“Among the tasks is identifying the bodies of the dead and coordinating with authorities in Colombia and Venezuela for their return,” Carillo said.

It was the second bus tragedy in less than three days in Ecuador.

On Aug. 12, 12 people were killed and 30 more were injured when a bus carrying fans of an Ecuadorean soccer team overturned on a highway after a game.

Late Aug. 13, relatives of the victims bid farewell to their loved ones at a collective wake held at the Barcelona club’s stadium in Guayaquil.

Relatives mourn over the coffin of a soccer fan killed in a bus crash at the Isidro Romero soccer stadium in Guayaquil, Ecuador, late Monday, Aug. 13, 2018. The bodies of 12 fans of Ecuadorean football team Barcelona that were killed when the bus they were traveling in after attending a local league match overturned were taken to the stadium for a collective funeral. (AP/Jose Sanchez)
A woman cries as she arrives to find out news of soccer fans killed in a bus crash outside the morgue in Cuenca, Ecuador, Monday, Aug. 13, 2018. At least 12 fans of Ecuadorean football team Barcelona were killed and 30 injured when the bus they were traveling in after a match against Deportivo Cuenca overturned on Sunday. (AP/Javier Ramirez)

Police were still investigating the cause of that crash, but some witnesses told local media the bus carrying members of the Sur Oscura fan club that accompanies Barcelona to all its away games was seen trying to overtake other vehicles shortly before the crash.

On average, 13 people die each day on Ecuador’s roads, according to the highway safety organization Road Justice. It says roughly 95 percent are due to human error.

By Carlos Noriega

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