UK & World News

  • 18 December 2012, 5:38

Colombia Bus Crash Kills 26 After 'Brake Failure'

At least 26 people have been killed after a bus swerved off a road and flipped over due to suspected brake failure.

Another 15 passengers were injured and rescue workers battled for hours to free people trapped in the mangled wreckage.

The accident happened as the vehicle carried visitors to a coffee fair in central Colombia.

The bus driver, who survived the accident, said that brake failure was to blame.

Firefighter Jorge Riobueno explained how the driver tried frantically to maintain control of the bus using the gears.

He said: "Unfortunately one of the vehicles - that was returning from a meeting and that was part of a caravan of vehicles - lost control.

"According to the versions we have, the bus's brakes failed and the driver was trying to control the vehicle using the gears.

"But unfortunately he lost control when the bus was going around a curve. The bus went off the highway and over the guardrails, killing more than 15 people.

"Various people were injured and were rescued by personnel from the area."

Felipa Ruiz, who survived the accident, recounted moments of terror as the bus veered out of control.

She said: "In that moment I thought the worst and since we were practically on a slope I thought it was going to be more difficult to control. So I bent down and I started praying, nothing else.

"I don't remember anything else, the reactions or where we were, I don't know if we left the highway, or if we fell into an abyss, I don't know anything - I know that when I woke up I felt like something was cutting off my legs."

The bus was heading from Bogota to the city of Cali, some 500km (310 miles) to the southwest, highway police commander Francisco Patino said.

People on some of the other buses said the driver of the one that crashed had complained about the brakes on the first leg of the journey but that the bus company failed to replace the vehicle.

Earlier this month eight people died and 11 were injured when a bus flipped over in Ibague, 200km (120 miles) west of Bogota, apparently after speeding.

Approximately 5,000 people per year are killed in traffic accidents in Colombia.