Landslide sweeps bus into river

Seven people are dead and 25 missing after a landslide in northern Peru swept a bus into the Utcubamba River, in Amazonas Department. The director of the National Police’s Protection of Highways Office, Col. Guillermo Arteta, told Agencia Andina the Tarapato Tours-owned bus was carrying about 45 passengers when it was hit by the landslide at around 1 a.m. on the Fernando Belaúnde Terry highway.

The driver of the bus, Esteban Neyra Guerrero, told Radio Programas radio he stopped the bus when it ran into debris on the highway. Guerrero said he asked the passengers to get off the bus and wait until he passed the blocked area. Only 10 people complied. Shortly after a larger landslide hit the highway, knocking the remaining passengers and driver into the river.

General Víctor Castañeda, the police chief in Amazonas, is leading the search and rescue operation according to Arteta. “In the following hours we hope to rescue more people, who we hope to find in good health,” said Arteta.

Landslides, or “huaycos” as they are called in Peru, are common in the Andes and jungle regions during the rainy season from December through March. They regularly block highways leaving remote communities isolated.

Yesterday, for example, about 4,000 people in the Caylloma Province, in Arequipa Department, were temporarily isolated after strong rains caused mud and earth to block the road between the towns of Tisco and Yanque. Radio Programas radio reported as well that debris on a highway connecting the Ancash and Huánaco departments, in central Peru, was recently cleared. The landslide occurred on Dec. 31.

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