The Authorities Blame the Driver for the Viazul Bus Crash

Luis Ladrón de Guevara, director of transport of passengers for the Ministry of Transport in Cuba, gave a press conference in Havana. (EFE / Ernesto Mastrascusa)

14ymedio biggerEFE / 14ymedio, Havana, 11 January 2018 – The Government of Cuba signaled this Friday that the 55-year old driver was directly responsible for a tragic bus crash; he was accused of having lost control of the vehicle for not taking appropriate safety measures resulting in a toll of seven dead and dozens injured.

“Direct responsibility of the driver in this unfortunate event has been determined,” the Ministry of the Interior (Minint) wrote in a press release in state media, in which it offered news on the investigation of the crash that occurred Thursday afternoon in the province of Guantánamo, the fourth on Cuban roads that involved a passenger bus in less than a month.

The bus driver, who has 25 years of experience in the sector, allegedly failed to comply with the section of the Road and Traffic Code that requires slowing down or stopping if required by traffic, the state of the road or visibility, and driving with extreme caution in adverse conditions, according to the Minint.

The Viazul state company bus with 40 passengers on board overturned at approximately 4:00 p.m. after the driver lost control on a curve at kilometer 22 of the Guantanamo-Baracoa highway, where the pavement was wet and slippery, authorities of the Ministry of Transport (Mitrans) explained during a press conference.

The driver could face “criminal and administrative sanctions” if it is determined that he committed a crime, said the transport director of Mitrans, Luis Ladrón de Guevara.

In any case, he noted that it is still premature to draw conclusions and indicated that a commission has been created composed of officials from state/local agencies and Víazul to investigate the event in more detail.

Three Cubans, two Argentinian women, a German woman and a French man lost their lives in the accident, which also left 33 injured.

Of the injured, five are in serious condition: a Spanish woman, a French woman and three Cubans, while a three-year-old Spanish child suffered multiple injuries but remains stable.

The list of injured also includes another Spanish man, nine more Cubans, three Argentinian men, two Mexican men and twelve citizens from the United Kingdom, Canada, the US, the Netherlands, France and Germany.

The incident Thursday was the second massive crash reported in the eastern region of Cuba so far this week, after a crash between a bus and a passenger train left twelve injured on January 8.

In addition, on December 27, two people were killed and 33 injured in a traffic crash involving a truck with a trailer loaded with sugarcane and a passenger bus from the state company Astro. On December 12 another incident, again involving a passenger bus, left three dead and 29 injured in the vicinity of Mayarí, in the province of Holguín.

Traffic crashes are the fifth leading cause of mortality in Cuba, where last year one was recorded every 47 minutes, for an average of one death every 12 hours.

In 2018 the number of catastrophic crashes soared alarmingly in the country, which has recorded more than 4,400 deaths since 2012, according to official data.

The most recent report shows that between January and October of 2018 there were more than 8,000 traffic crashes on the island.

Most are attributed to a lack of attention by the driver, ignoring the right of way or speeding, but contributing factors are the poor conditions of the roads and the aging fleet of motor vehicles in the Caribbean country, with cars more than 50 years old on the road.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria


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