According to Associated Press, 12 people were killed today when a tour bus flipped over on the Chetumal-Mahahual highway during a day trip to Mayan ruins in south-east Mexico.
CNN identified eight Americans, two Swiss and one Canadian traveler as being among the 12 people killed. While identities and ages of the dead were not immediately released by the officials on site, reports from NBC say that a young child and the tour’s guide, a native Mexican, have also died in the accident.
Around 20 more tourists on the bus were injured, with 13 of them in stable condition. Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism tweeted earlier that seven people remain in critical condition.
A spokesman for the Quintana Roo state Civil Defense agency, Vicente Martin, said earlier on Wednesday that at least seven Americans and two Swedes were reported among the ones injured in the accident.
Quoting Mexican officials at the site, NBC said the bus driver was also injured and was later detained by local police.
The bus was carrying cruise ship passengers from Cancun to Chacchoben, a popular Costa Maya ruins site about 110 miles south of Tulum. The reasons for why the accident happened still remain unclear, with the only available information suggesting that sometime during its trip the bus ended up on its side in deep vegetation along the side of the road. There are no records of the actual crash, but multiple videos and images taken by bystanders at the crash site managed to capture the immediate consequences of the accident.
Videos show some survivors laying on the pavement while others were walking around the ambulance vehicles. As the crash scene was being cordoned off with yellow police tape, the video showed a body covered with what seems to be a white sheet laying on the side of the road.
Following the crash, Royal Caribbean Cruises, a Miami-based global cruise company, released a statement saying that 27 of its passengers were on the bus. Passengers from two of its ships, the Celebrity Equinox and Serenade of the Seas, were among ones injured in the crash. The cruise line also said it was assisting local authorities with medical care and transportation of the dead and injured. Both of the ships arrived in Costa Maya, a busy cruise ship port in the state of Quintana Roo, earlier on Tuesday. Celebrity Equinox departed from Port Miami on Saturday, while the Serenade of the Seas left Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Friday.
The U.S. embassy in Mexico said that local authorities were working closely with U.S. officials in order to determine the number of American citizens killed in the accident.
According to NBC, local officials released a statement late Tuesday night that seven of the tourists injured on the bus had returned to their cruise ships, while the 13 others remained hospitalized. Six of the critical patients were held in a hospital in Tulum, while seven more injured were transferred to the city of Chetumal, near the border with Belize. Adding to the statement, the officials said that the 12 dead passengers are going to be transferred to the state’s forensic department for identification. After all of the dead had been identified, local officials will notify consular authorities.
The exact reasons why the bus flipped over still remain unknown, and with witnesses on the scene reporting clear skies and dry roads at the time of the accident, it seems most likely that the driver lost control of the bus.
The section of the Chetumal-Mahahual highway where the accident happened is a narrow, two-lane road surrounded by thick vegetation and shallow ditches on both sides. The road has no shoulder or guardrail, and witnesses speaking to NBC said there was no sign of another vehicle being involved in the crash.
Costa Maya Mahahual, the bus operating company involved, released a statement earlier on Wednesday that a guide and driver, both Mexican natives, were on the bus at the time of the crash.