Rescue workers are searching for survivors of a spectacular bus crash that plunged off a bridge into a river on Christmas Eve in Spain, killing at least five people.
According to authorities, the accident happened shortly before 9:30 p.m. Saturday on a national road near Cerdeto-Cotobate, a small town in Galicia (northwest Spain), located not far from the border with Portugal.
There were a total of eight to nine people in the bus connecting Lugo to Vigo. Among them, two were rescued alive and hospitalized: the driver of the vehicle, a sixty-year-old man, and a passenger.
At least five passengers died, according to rescue services, which posted an impressive photo on Twitter of the wreckage, plunging into the bottom of a canyon between tree trunks in a turbulent current.
The first two were discovered overnight, from Saturday to Sunday, hours after the accident. The other three were near the wreckage of the coach on Sunday morning, a Civil Guard spokesman said.
One to two are missing
According to officials, one to two people are still missing. The civil guard told AFP that “the number is not yet known precisely” as the driver had “doubts” about the number of people on the bus at the time of the accident.
According to local authorities, the five dead are a young Peruvian woman living in Galicia, where she worked in the service of an elderly man, and four Spaniards living in the region.
Among the passengers on the bus were those who had come to visit relatives detained at the Monterosso prison center in central Galicia on Christmas Eve, regional daily La Voz de Galicia reported.
According to officials, a motorist first raised the alarm after noticing that the guard rail had been destroyed on the bridge where the accident occurred. Emergency services were then called from the bus, which helped locate the wreckage.
What happened last night was “a tragedy beyond words,” Cerdedo-Cotobade Mayor Jorge Cubela told reporters at the scene, praising the “technique” of agents stationed at the scene of the accident.
According to officials, rescue operations were complicated by heavy rain overnight, which suddenly raised the level of the Leres River, where the bus fell, but the relief of the area.
There is a “very significant drop” in the line “thirty meters” under the bridge, an AFP civil guard spokesman assured. In a press release, emergency services spoke of a fall of “75 meters”.
These conditions forced rescue teams to suspend the search for several hours into the night. The latter finally resumed at dawn with significant resources including mountain rescue units, caves and a helicopter.
According to officials, the cause of the crash is still unknown, although bad weather may have played a role. A spokesperson for the Civil Guard said the driver of the bus had tested negative for alcohol and drugs.
“We still don’t know for sure the reasons (for the accident)” but “it’s true that the weather was very bad last night,” Galicia region president Alfonso Ruta confirmed at the scene.
On Twitter, the leader of the Popular Party (PP, right) Alberto Núñez Faizú, originally from Galicia, who he led for 13 years, sent his “condolences to the families of the victims” and “thanks to those who participated in the research” of the missing”.
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