A bus veered off a bridge and plunged into a ravine in western Mexico, killing at least 26 people and injuring 27 others, 18 of them seriously, police said.

The bus was carrying a group headed to the beach in the resort town of Rincon de Guayabitos yesterday when the predawn crash occurred, Mr Omar Landazuri of the Nayarit civil protection authorities, said.

“The bus overturned and began to roll down a ravine, ejecting people along the way,” Mr Landazuri added, saying that many of the victims died from the battering they received.

More than 50 people were on board when the bus plunged 100 metres into the ravine, said Nayarit civil protection chief, Mr Martin Tapia. Three children and the driver were among the dead. An earlier toll had put the number of dead at 21.

The crash occurred on the highway between Tepic and Guadalajara, about 750 kilometres northwest of Mexico City.

Although the cause of the accident remained unclear, police suspected the driver may have been speeding or fallen asleep at the wheel.

Mr Landazuri said the bus, owned by Express Oro Tours, had been rented by a group of tourists from northern Chihuahua state for a trip to the Pacific coast.

The crash marked the fourth serious bus accident in Mexico this year. In the most serious recent incident, a truck smashed into a bus transporting farm workers in the eastern state of Veracruz on April 20, killing 43 people.

Around 24,000 people die from road accidents in Mexico each year, according to insurance companies — a figure almost double the annual toll from the country’s brutal drug war.

(This article was published on July 21, 2012)
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