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Bus crash in Peruvian mountains kills 49
Updated: 2004-12-21 21:49

LIMA, Peru - A driver lost control of a bus in a heavy rainstorm in Peru's mountains and the vehicle plunged 165 feet into a river, killing 49 people on board and injuring 15, police said.

The accident occurred Sunday in the Andean jungle, 215 miles northeast of the capital, officer Juan Siu Gomez said by telephone late Monday from Aguaytia, near the crash site.

The bus was headed from Lima to the jungle town of Pucallpa, about 300 miles to the northeast, when it crashed, police said. There were no foreign passengers on board.

The number of dead reached 49 after rescue workers pulled victims from the bus, which was submerged in the Yurac River, said police Capt. Omar Martin.

Peru's leading newspaper, El Comercio, reported that survivors told authorities the driver lost control of the bus in a heavy rainstorm while speeding across a bridge over the river.

Bus crashes are common in Peru, where drivers frequently speed and pass vehicles along blind mountain curves.

In November, a passenger bus plunged almost 500 feet off a mountain highway in the southern Andes, killing 17 people and injuring 36 others.

Five days earlier, a passenger bus plunged more than 650 feet off an isolated mountain highway in the Andes, killing at least 28 people and injuring 28 others.

A recent study commissioned by Peru's Transportation Ministry showed that between January and July of this year, 208 people were killed in rural bus crashes, compared to 170 deaths during the same time period in 2003.

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