At least 43 officers were killed and nine others injured when a National Gendarmerie bus went off a bridge Monday in Salta, a province in northwestern Argentina, officials said. The bus was carrying about 60 officers when it went off the bridge and plunged into the Seco River.
The cause of the accident has not been determined, but there may have been a problem with the right tire, Salta Civil Defense and Social Emergencies Secretary Francisco Marinaro told TN television.
Rescue teams are still trying to raise the bus, which landed upside down, police reported.
It fell 15 meters and landed upside down, with the passenger cabin crushed almost flat. Aerial photos showed the mangled vehicle lying in the riverbed, trailing a long strip of guard rail it ripped from the bridge on its way down.
Eight people have been hospitalized, authorities said.
President Mauricio Macri expressed his condolences to the officers' families after an event with farmers in Pergamino, province of Buenos Aires.
We have to improve the roads so these kinds of things don't keep happening, Macri said. The president, who took office last week, declared 24 hours of national mourning over the officers' deaths.
The bus was part of a caravan of three carrying police to reinforce security in neighboring Jujuy province, where a new governor is expected to announce job cuts soon.
A local mayor, Gustavo Solis of Rosario de la Frontera, said the road where the accident took place is known to be in poor condition.
Those of us who know the area try to avoid driving at night, he said.