SALTA, Argentina, More than 40 policemen died Monday when a bus they were riding in blew a tire, ran off a bridge and plunged into a dry riverbed in northern Argentina, officials said.
According to officials, the bus — which was carrying dozens of the nation’s military police force — abruptly blew one of its tires and careened off the bridge in the Salta province, which is located about a thousand miles northwest of Buenos Aires.
The bus was traveling along National Route 34 about 2 a.m. with about 60 people on board when the driver lost control and the bus plunged into the dry bed of the Seco River, Clarin reported. Firefighters and medical personnel attempted to help people who were trapped hours after the crash.
The bus was traveling between Santiago del Estero and San Salvador de Jujuy when it appears a tire malfunctioned.
“It appears that one of the tires of the bus blew out, unfortunately just a few meters ahead of the bridge. It went over the guardrail,” Argentine security chief Patricia Bullrich said.
Argentina’s emergency services said at least 43 members of the Argentine National Gendarmerie border guard force died in the crash and about 20 others were hospitalized with serious injuries.
The incident occurred near the small town of Balboa, near Rosario de la Frontera, and an investigation into the cause has been launched.
The mayor of Rosario de la Frontera, Gustavo Solís, told local media the road is “totally run down, very bumpy,” and added it is “not unreasonable” to assume road conditions caused the accident.”
“The road is completely deteriorated. We try not to travel through the area at night,”he added.
Argentine President Mauricio Macri expressed his condolences Monday night and asked for collective prayers from his citizens.
By Andrew V. Pestano and Doug G. Ware