At 3:10 AM today, a minibus fell off the side of the road on route 7 in Mendoza, killing three passengers and injuring 20 others. The three killed were 13- and 14-years-old. Five of the 20 were “seriously” injured, according to Infobae. Among the passengers was a delegation of Chilean athletes.
The minibus fell after grazing another bus as it turned a corner, just 200 meters from the international tunnel connecting Chile and Argentina. It’s unclear why the minibus made contact with the other vehicle, but witnesses said they saw the minibus try to pass a truck. Both vehicles belonged to Chilean companies, and the fallen one belonged to the company Mel Tur. Just over a year ago, another minibus accident left 19 killed on route 7 in the same area of Mendoza.
The five seriously injured passengers were brought to Uspallata hospital. Two of them were then transferred to other hospitals: a 9-year-old was brought to Notti Hospital, and a 15-year-old with a serious fracture and an encephalocutaneous trauma was brought to Central Hospital.
Chile’s Radio Nihuil tweeted the list of passengers.
Todos los ocupantes del micro de Mel Tur, que tenía como destino Paraguay, son de nacionalidad chilena. Siete mujeres y 28 hombres. A continuación el listado de pasajeros #InformeNihuil pic.twitter.com/84Z5c52boF
— Radio Nihuil (@radionihuil) February 2, 2018
Mel Tur’s manager, Alicia Meléndez, told TN that “the company’s minibus was traveling with a 35-person sports delegation, the majority of whom were minors, that were traveling with two chaperones.” They were part of the Quilicura community, close to Santiago, Chile, and they were on their way to Paraguay.
The trans-Andes press added that 28 of the passengers were men and 7 were women, the majority between 10- and 13-years-old, and they were on their way to a football tournament. Two delegations were present: one from the football school La Boza from the club Colo-Colo, and the other team from Linca Ray, in the south of Chile.
The three who were killed belonged to the Colo-Colo football schools, one of the most important clubs in Chile. The soccer club tweeted their condolences.
Lamentamos profundamente la trágica muerte de 3 niños, miembros de una delegación deportiva de la escuela de fútbol Colo-Colo Lo Boza de la comuna de Quilicura. Enviamos un abrazo fraterno y nuestras condolencias a sus familias, amigos y a todos los integrantes de dicha escuela.
— CSD Colo-Colo (@CSDColoColo) February 2, 2018
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet also tweeted her apologies.
Mi más sincero pésame y solidaridad con las familias de fallecidos en el accidente de la escuela de fútbol de Colo Colo ocurrido esta madrugada en la ruta a Mendoza, y deseo que los heridos puedan recuperarse. Nuestro Consulado ya está colaborando. ¡Todo Chile está con ustedes!
— Michelle Bachelet (@mbachelet) February 2, 2018
Meléndez, the manager of Mel Tur, said “the bus was new, from 2015, and the brand was Mercedes Benz. Last week it arrived from a trip to Brazil. All of the papers are up to date. We are a Chilean business that has been in the market for many years.”