(Cotobade) Six people died and two others were injured on Christmas Eve in a spectacular bus accident, which fell several dozen meters into a flooded river in northwestern Spain.
The accident, which mobilized a large search force all day Sunday, occurred around 9:30 p.m. (3:30 p.m. Eastern time) on Saturday on a bridge in Cerdedo-Cotobade, a small town in Galicia. located not far from the border with Portugal.
According to the authorities, eight people were on board the bus, which linked the cities of Lugo and Vigo, on the Atlantic coast. Among them, two were found alive: the driver of the vehicle, aged around sixty, and a passenger, both hospitalized.
The six other passengers were found dead, according to the emergency services, which published on Twitter an impressive photo of the wreckage, plunged into a turbulent stream at the bottom of a ravine surrounded by tree trunks.
According to the Civil Guard, the first two victims were found near the wreckage of the bus, a few hours after the accident. The bodies of the other four people were recovered from the Lerez River, where the vehicle fell.
The number of missing people has long remained uncertain, the bus driver having expressed his “doubts” about the number of people present in his vehicle when he was taken care of – in shock – by the rescue.
“Rescue teams confirm that all the missing people have been rescued”, however assured the Galicia emergency service at the end of the afternoon, specifying on Twitter that the search device was going to be lifted.
According to the Civil Guard spokesman, five Spaniards from Galicia are among the victims, including a mother and her son. The sixth is a young woman of Peruvian nationality, who worked for an elderly person in Cerdedo-Cotobade.
According to the regional daily La Voz de Galicia, some of the deceased passengers were returning from the Monterroso prison center in central Galicia, where they had gone to visit relatives on Christmas Eve.
According to the authorities, it was a motorist who first gave the alert after noting that the safety rail was destroyed on the bridge where the accident took place. The emergency services then received a call from the bus, which made it possible to locate the wreckage.
The rescue operations were complicated by the heavy rains that fell during the night, which caused the level of the river to rise sharply, but also by the rugged terrain of the area where the bus fell.
There is under the bridge “a fairly significant drop”, of the order of “thirty meters”, described to AFP the spokesperson for the Civil Guard. The emergency services meanwhile mentioned in a press release a drop of up to “75 meters”.
These conditions forced the authorities to suspend the search for several hours. They finally resumed on Sunday morning with mountain rescue units, divers and a helicopter.
What happened that night “is a tragedy without words”, the mayor of Cerdedo-Cotobade, Jorge Cubela, told reporters, hailing the “professionalism” of the agents deployed at the scene of the accident.
According to authorities, bad weather may have played a role in the accident, although its exact circumstances are not yet known. According to the spokesperson for the Civil Guard, the driver of the bus tested negative for alcohol and narcotics.
“We don’t yet know the causes [de l’accident] with certainty” but “it is true that the weather conditions were very bad last night”, confirmed the president of the region of Galicia, Alfonso Rueda, who went there.