Tour bus plummets into canyon, kills 12
Authorities say all victims American; survivors in critical condition
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SANTIAGO, Chile (CNN) -- A bus carrying tourists on a side trip through the mountains of northern Chile plunged into a canyon Wednesday, killing 12 people, all of them American, authorities said.
The bus was carrying 16 tourists from a Miami, Florida-based cruise ship, most of whom are believed to be American. Arica Mayor Patricia Perez announced the death toll, but local police said they would not confirm it until families had been notified.
John Vance, press attache to the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, confirmed that all of those killed were Americans.
Of those who survived the crash, some were in critical condition, said Maj. Carlos Valcarce, an Arica police spokesman. (Watch the scene of the deadly crash -- :48)
Two Americans and two Chileans survived the crash, Perez said.
The crash occurred about 4:30 p.m. (3:30 p.m. ET). The tourists were among about 1,600 passengers from the Celebrity Cruises liner Millennium, which was docked in Arica as part of a two-week cruise that was slated to arrive back in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on April 2.
The bus was returning to the ship from a national park near the Bolivian border when it swerved off the highway and into a 260-foot canyon, Valcarce said. Survivors were transported to Dr. Juan Noe Regional Hospital in Arica, 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) north of Santiago. (Map)
The ship was carrying about 1,536 guests and 920 crew members, the cruise line said. It will remain in Arica until further notice.
The passengers were on an independent excursion not affiliated with Celebrity Cruise, the company said in a statement. A doctor and nurse were sent from the ship to help tend to the injured, and the cruise company is working closely with police to determine the cause of the wreck, it said.
Journalist Amaro Gomez-Pablos contributed to this report.
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