Bus accident in Chile: 12 killed, 2 injured

A bus carrying tourists from a cruise ship plunged more than 100 meters (yards) into a mountain ravine in northern Chile, killing 12 U.S. citizens and seriously injuring two others, officials said.

The Chilean bus driver and a guide were also injured in Wednesday's accident along a rugged highway near the Pacific port city of Arica, 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) north of Santiago.

The identities of the victims were not immediately released.

The tourists were returning to their Bahamas-registered Millennium cruise ship after visiting the nearby Lauca National Park when the driver lost control of the vehicle trying to avoid an oncoming truck that had just rounded a curve, according to Juan Pablo Poli, a spokesman the city of Arica.

Poli said two Americans were in serious condition at a local hospital. A third injured American died, raising the death toll to 12.

"We have confirmed that all the victims were American citizens," he said. "Autopsies will be conducted during the night so the bodies can be sent home as soon as possible, probably by air from Santiago."

He said the bus had a capacity of 16 passengers and "was totally destroyed as it fell more than 100 meters (yards)."

The accident took place 42 kilometers (26 miles) northeast of Arica on the road leading deep into the high Andes Mountains, connecting the coast with the Bolivian capital of La Paz.

U.S. Embassy spokesman John Vance, who also confirmed the 12 U.S. deaths, said the embassy was sending consular officers to Arica.

The Millennium was docked in Arica, and the cruise line said the ship will remain there until further notice. It had been scheduled to leave for Peru early Thursday. The ship was carrying approximately 1,500 guests and 920 crew members, reports the AP.


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