Truck Drives Over Cliff in Bolivia - 23 Dead

by Bolivia Democratica

Bolivian police report that on Friday the number of dead in a traffic accident that took place on Thursday when a truck drove off a 200-meter high cliff has increased to 23.

One Survivor

The commander of the La Paz traffic accidents division, Colonel Victor Hugo Oña, read the list of victims to reports, among which are six children between two months and twelve years of age.

Oña explained that early investigations indicate the driver of the truck, which was transporting citrus fruit and coca leaves, and top of its cargo an undetermined number of passengers, fell asleep at the wheel and drove off a slope that is over 200 meters deep in the are of Los Yungas, where the Bolivian Amazon region begins.

Only one nine-year old girl survived the accident. She was taken to a hospital in the city of La Paz where she spent the night in the operating room. She is still in the hospital.

The Wakes

Dr. Luis Pedregal, who attended to the girl at the Arco Iris Hospital in the city of La Paz, told the press the child is in "serious but stable" condition, and that she will remain under observation for at least 48 hours.

Oña added that inhabitants of the area in which the accident took place did not allow public security forces to transfer the bodies to La Paz "due to the high cost of the paperwork", and chose instead to hold wakes in their communities.

Relatives of the Coripata Mayor

Froilán Mamani, mayor of the rural town of Coripata, in the northern region of the country, told local reporters that the truck went off the cliff near a small town close to the city of La Paz.

"The truck fell and even exploded. Among the dead are my relatives and others who live in the town (of Coripata)", he added.

Colonel Juan Valdivia, commander of the Highway Patrol, indicated to Erbol radio that rescue workers could not retrieve the bodies easily because they are located in a very deep section of the ravine.

During the past few weeks multiple traffic accidents have put authorities on alert due to the condition of the roads and drivers' bad habits.

The last accident took place on Monday, when a 22-car crash occurred on an avenue in the city of La Paz, resulting in three dead and five injured.

Date: 24-July-2010
This is a translation. Read this article in Spanish here.

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