Deadly tourist-bus crash leaves at least 12 dead

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During an excursion to Mayan ruins in southeastern Mexico Tuesday, a tour bus carrying cruise ship passengers flipped over on a narrow highway. The crash resulted in 11 travelers and their guide being killed and about 20 others critically injured, authorities said.

According to Quintana Roo state Civil Defense agency spokesman Vicente Martin, seven Americans and two Swedes were among the injured. The nationalities of those killed in the crash have not been released, though according to officials from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, investigators are working with local authorities to determine if any American citizens were among the dead. The Quintana Roo state prosecutor’s office reported a child was among one of the fatalities.

It has been confirmed that passengers from the Celebrity Equinox and Serenade of the Seas cruise ships, owned by Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises, were on the bus. The company publicly expressed its sympathies and said it was assisting with medical care, transportation and other necessities. Seven injured tourists had returned to their boat Tuesday night, while 13 remained hospitalized, six of them in Tulum and seven in the city of Chetumal.

The bus ended up flipped on its side in vegetation along the two-lane highway. Video taken of the grisly scene showed some survivors lying on the pavement and others stumbling around disoriented. On the roadside, one body lay dormant, covered by a white sheet.

The crash scene was eventually marked off with yellow police tape. Martin said investigators were working to determine the cause of the crash, which occurred as the bus was on its way to the ruins at Chacchoben, 110 miles south of Tulum.

Chris Brawley, a passenger on the Serenade of Seas, was on a different bus headed to the same Mayan ruins when they approached the scene minutes after the accident. The accident occurred shortly after 9 a.m., he said. The convoy of tourist buses had been on the road for about 35 to 40 minutes before the accident.

Brawley said he didn’t see any sign of another vehicle or car being involved in the crash, which happened on a narrow, two-lane road with no shoulder or guardrail. In terms of weather, there was no rain or hazardous conditions that may have influenced the crash.

While he did not see the crash, Brawley said “the bus clearly lost control somehow as there were swerve marks all over the road surface.”

Michael Schuenemeyer, a minister from Cleveland, was on another tourist bus that passed the crash about an hour after the incident. By that time, tow trucks were lifting the crashed bus and it was in “pretty sad shape,” Schuenemeyer said.

The tourist bus is operated by the Costa Maya Mahahual company.

Video footage of the carnage may be viewed below:

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