Wednesday 6 December 2023

Tragedy in Cambronero: 9 dead, 30 rescued after bus falls over cliff

Red Cross and Firefighters work with special equipment at the scene in rescue and recovery efforts

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6 December 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – A bus with approximately 60 people on board was swept down an embankment into a 75-meter drop on the Interamerican Norte (Ruta 1), in the Santiago de San Ramón sector in Alajuela, known as the Cambronero.

At 10 pm Saturday, the Costa Rican Red Cross confirmed nine people died, more than 30 people rescued, 11 people trapped in the wreckage and several others missing, possibly thrown from the bus as felled the cliff.

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At least 32 units from the Red Cross and 23 from the Bomberos (Firefighters) are participating in the rescue and recovery efforts, under the cover of darkness and poor weather conditions.

At last report, at least three people were transferred to the San Ramón hospital in delicate condition.

The Red Cross confirmed the transfer of 3 delicate patients to the San Ramón Hospital. Others were sent to the Esparza clinic and Puntarenas hospital.

Two search and rescue dogs by the Bomberos are combing the area.

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Bernie Sandoval, San Ramón Bomberos Chief, described the scene after arrival: “In the last inspection we did, we managed to get seven people out, plus a female who was on the other side of the embankment, we also found a motorcyclist who was deceased at the scene. Inside the bus there are eleven people who are pressed in different places.”

The incident occurred at 4:10 pm. Apparently, several vehicles were swept by a landslide that fell from a wall onto the road; the cars, in turn, hit the double-decker bus, which was headed to Guanacaste.

On Thursday, passage through Cambronero was closed due to a landslide in the area of Río Jesús María. Passage through the area was resumed at 1:30 pm Friday, regulated by traffic officials, while machinery from the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT) continued working on cleaning the road.

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The bus left San Jose around 2 pm.

One of the passengers was able to talk to Telenoticias television after being rescued. “I took the bus at almost 4 pm at the San Ramón exit, we passed a sinkhole then through the lane that is enabled, further down we heard a noise: suddenly I saw branches, we were going down, everyone started screaming. At one point the bus stopped, I asked God to help us, but again it went around again until it stopped again. It was something terribly indescribable.

The woman who survived the incident spoke to Telenoticias. Her name was not provided.

“I think the river swept people away, however, I waited to calm down and take care of some children holding on to a seat. Then I saw a man with a sore arm and he helped me with the kids so I tried to get out but slipped until I was able to grab a root. Then I started to climb until the firefighters arrived who helped me out. I’m banged up, but I don’t have any broken bones,” added the passenger.


This story is in development. Updates will be posted when more information is available.

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