At least 34 killed when bus falls into ravine in Guatemala

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The Independent US

An overcrowded bus driving in a heavy rain plunged off a 330-foot-high (100-meter-high) cliff in northern Guatemala, killing at least 34 people, authorities said Monday.

The accident happened Sunday night as the bus traveled on a curvy highway in the city of Chiantla, 140 kilometers (85 miles) northwest of the capital, Guatemala City.

"The bodies were scattered, some lying in the grass, others on rocks, and some in the river that runs through the valley," said rescue worker Walter Gomez, who added that rescuers had to use axes to chop through the roof of the bus to reach victims.

Rescue efforts were being hampered by continuing heavy rains and rough terrain on Monday. Six people were found alive, but one of them died on the way to the hospital.

As of late Monday, rescue teams had recovered 34 bodies, said Abizai Lopez, an official at the main police station in the nearby city of Huehuetenango.

Among the dead were four minors, said Domingo Funes, a firefighter on the scene.

Survivors said the bus, with an estimated capacity of 45 to 50 passengers, was overcrowded at the time of the crash. Firefighters estimated the bus plunged about 100 meters (330 feet) into a valley.

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