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Bolivian bus crash kills at least 19

  • Story Highlights
  • Bus driver seemed to lose control after hitting obstacle, witness says
  • Rescue workers maneuvered vertical mountain face, lush vegetation
  • Five passengers had surgery; 19 taken to nearby hospital
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(CNN) -- At least 19 people died and 26 were injured when a bus plunged off a mountain road in Bolivia, the state-run news agency reported Monday.

A survivor told CNN affiliate ATB TV that the bus seemed to hit a rock or some other object and the driver lost control.

"I was sitting in the front," Wilmer Villanueva told ATB. "It must have been around 6:15 in the morning. It was still dark out. There was a sound like a rock breaking, and then I saw that the driver was trying to straighten out the steering wheel, but he couldn't.

"When we were falling, the window broke out and I called out to God and then I jumped. I believe the bus passed over me."

Sunday's accident happened about 43 miles (70 kilometers) southeast of Bolivia's capital La Paz near the city of La Florida, said the government-run Agencia Boliviana de Informacion.

ATB showed images of rescue workers having to climb up and down ropes on the nearly vertical mountain face.

Rescue efforts were further hampered by the lush vegetation of the Yungas forest that surrounds the road.

Five of the wounded underwent surgery and were in serious condition Monday, La Prensa newspaper said on its Web site.

Nineteen of the injured were taken to a nearby hospital in Yanacachi. The remaining, more seriously injured passengers were transported to La Paz.

All About Bolivia

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