Nearly 50 dead in Brazil bus crash

The scene of the crash site
The scene of the crash site

It is feared that as many as 49 people have been killed after a tour bus plunged hundreds of meters into a densely wooded ravine in southern Brazil.

Eight children and 24 women are believed to be among the dead.

The toll had initially been put at about 30 but the number rose throughout the night as rescuers continued to find bodies at the difficult-to-access crash site in Santa Catarina state, as other victims succumbed to their injuries at a nearby hospital.

The bus plunged 400 meters into a ravine and ended up on its side, snarled in thick vegetation. Rescuers struggled to account for everyone in the failing light and difficult terrain.

Fifty people were supposed to be on the bus, but authorities believed the number of passengers was higher than that.

Ten people were in the hospital. Their conditions were not immediately known.

The crash site was near a lookout point in the Dona Francisca mountains, a popular stop for tourists. The bus was about six miles (10km) from its destination in the city of Joinville when it crashed. Highway and weather conditions at the time were good, a police spokesman said.

Though no immediate cause for the crash had been determined, police said it appeared the brakes on the bus failed.

Brazil has some of Latin America’s deadliest roads. Despite nearly a decade of sustained economic growth that only slowed in recent years, the country has done little to improve or expand its creaky infrastructure.

The country averages more than 18 highway deaths per 100,000 people per year, compared with only about 10 in high-income countries, according to a report by the Inter-American Development Bank.