Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ecuador: Rural Bus Topples Over Cliff Killing 29, Injuring 27

Ecuadorian media has reported that a fully occupied rural bus fell from a cliff in the northern section of the country on Sunday (February 19), killing 27 adults and two children. The driver was among those killed.

COMMENT: Many of our regular readers know full well my thoughts on taking local buses in developing countries and the human carnage that has resulted from over-crowded buses attempting to traverse high-risk mountain roads, often driven by fatigued and inexperienced drivers with poor safety records.

In northern Ecuador, like many Andean countries, it is common for local buses to creep along on cliff-facing roads that are not built for two large vehicles which creates an accident-waiting-to-happen when such vehicles encounter each other, hoping for an spacious indentation on the cliff side of the road.

I remember a business trip I made a few years to a Peruvian power plant which was right out of an Indiana Jones movie. In a small 4x4, I traveled with a local driver from Lima which took us four hours to get to the plant, driving on a poorly maintained road hardly large enough for one vehicle, as I looked out the window and saw the cliff drop hundreds of feet below.

I now know what a near-death experience is like.

I bring this particular accident up only for the purpose of flagging the tragedies than can occur and urge foreign travelers to know exactly what they're getting into before embarking on rural bus travel in hazardous areas.

Even if one is fortunate enough to survive the trip, there is also the risk of banditry in areas that rarely see a police patrol.

Sadly, police investigating the tragedy identified excessive speed as the cause of the "accident."

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