Mexico bus crash death toll rises to 28

/ Source: The Associated Press

The toll from a bus crash outside this border city rose to 28 dead and 21 injured, Mexican authorities said Sunday.

Authorities said the bus driver, who was among the dead, was speeding when the vehicle collided with a tractor-trailer early Saturday near Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas. The truck’s gas tank exploded, engulfing the bus in flames.

Officials initially said 23 died and 11 were injured, but revised the toll after determining that the bus was carrying 49 people — some of whom did not have seats and including children who were sitting on people’s laps, said Patricia Gonzalez, a prosecutor in Chihuahua state.

Many of the bodies were severely burned and it could be months before all the victims are identified, Gonzalez said.

Some of the passengers told El Diario de Juarez newspaper the driver appeared to have fallen asleep.

“People were burning, screaming, praying and there were a lot of kids,” Carlos Omar Rodriguez, 12, told the newspaper.

The boy injured his hip while escaping through a window, but was not burned, the newspaper reported.

Mariana Perez, 20, and her 23-year-old sister Sarahi managed to crawl out through a window, only minutes before flames engulfed the bus.

“The passengers were scrambling on top of us and the front of the bus was burning,” she told El Diario. “We just got out and had gotten a few (feet) away when it exploded. ... We were so scared. We were in shock when it exploded because we knew that people were trapped in there. A lot of people couldn’t get out.”

Operated by the Omnibus company, the bus left Friday night from Jimenez, about 280 miles south of Juarez.