39 dead in Panama migrant bus crash


At least 39 people, most of them undocumented US-bound migrants who had just survived a perilous jungle crossing, died in a bus crash in Panama early Wednesday, officials said. Panama’s National Mi-gration Service said the injured, including children, were being treated at various hospitals and clinics, without saying how many there were.

The latest death toll, it added, was based on “preliminary information.” The bus had “66 passen-gers on board” when it plunged down a ravine and hit a minibus some 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of the capital Panama City, the press statement said.

The bus was transporting migrants who had crossed the Darien Gap — an inhospitable jungle area bordering Colombia — and were moving westward toward Costa Rica from where they aimed to con-tinue their journey through Central America and Mexico, and ultimately to the United States.

The bus was on its way to a hostel in Gualaca near the Costa Rica border, where the passengers were to have rested before continuing their journey.

Local media said the crash happened as the driver was turning the bus around after missing the hostel.

It allegedly left the road on a bend and plunged down a ravine, hitting a rock and a minibus on a road below.

“We saw it coming and dived under the seats, the driver and myself, and because of that nothing happened to us,” Edgar Guerra, one of the two peo-ple inside the minibus, told local media.

The nationalities of the occupants has not been revealed but Cuba’s foreign minister Bruno Rodri-guez said on Twitter that Cubans were among the dead.—INP