Tragedy in Panama: 3 dead, 23 injured after bus transporting migrants falls off cliff
On the bus were 66 people who came from the province of Darién, on the border with Colombia
February 15, 2023 9:50am
Updated: February 16, 2023 8:41am
At least 33 people died and another 23 were injured this Wednesday after a bus carrying more than 60 migrants fell off a cliff in western Panama. Five of the injured were children.
Edilberto Armuelles, a major from the Chiriquí Fire Department, confirmed that the accident occurred in the Los Planes de Gualaca, Chiriquí province at 4:30 a.m. local time, and that the 23 injured were taken to hospitals while 11 were treated and 33 died at the scene.
Reports currently indicate 66 migrants were traveling in the vehicle in transit to shelters in the Darién province on the border of Colombia. The migrants were supposed to subsequently get transferred to a second shelter in Chiriquí, close to Costa Rica.
"Government teams are working hard in the area, providing medical assistance to the survivors of this tragedy," said Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo.
"The National Government extends its condolences to the families of those killed in this accident, and reiterates its commitment to continue providing humanitarian aid and decent conditions to deal with irregular migration," he added.
This news is unfortunate for Panama and for the region. The National Government extends its condolences to the families of those killed in this accident, and reiterates its commitment to continue providing humanitarian aid and decent conditions to deal with irregular migration.— Nito Cortizo (@NitoCortizo) February 15, 2023
The Minister of Public Security, Juan Pino, regretted the "painful" event, stating that the results of the investigations should be awaited to find out what caused the accident. The first versions say that the bus driver tried to make a turn, lost control, collided with another vehicle and fell off the cliff.
Panama's immigration authority reported on Jan. 1 that the number of irregular migrants arriving in the country bound for the U.S. doubled in 2022 to a record 248,000, and that more than half were Venezuelans.
The names of the deceased have not yet been released.