Updated Feb 16, 2023 - World

At least 39 migrants killed after bus goes off Panama cliff

The wreckage of a bus is towed away in Gualaca, Panama, on Feb. 15. Photo: Luis Acosta/AFP via Getty Images

At least 39 people, including children, were killed Wednesday after a bus carrying migrants went off a cliff in Panama, Reuters reports.

Driving the news: The bus carrying 66 migrants was traveling from the Darién Gap, a jungle that connects Colombia to Central America, and was headed to a shelter in Chiriqui, which borders Costa Rica.

  • About 20 people were hospitalized, some of them severely wounded, Panama's social security authority told Reuters.
  • The driver missed the entrance to the shelter, turned around and lost control of the vehicle, according to Panama’s migration director, Samira Gozaine, per the Washington Post.
  • The vehicle then collided with another bus and went off the side of a cliff.
  • The migrants had paid for the private bus service to get to the shelter as they headed north, per the Post.

What they're saying: "This news is unfortunate for Panama and for the region," Panama President Laurentino Cortizo said on Twitter.

  • "The government extends its condolences to the families of those killed in this accident, and reiterates its commitment to continue providing humanitarian aid and decent conditions to deal with irregular migration."

Thought bubble via Axios Latino co-author Marina E. Franco: The traffic accident happened a day after Colombian, U.S. and Panamanian authorities met to discuss how to better manage the flow of people trying to cross through the dangerous Darién Gap.

  • The crash indicates the alternate ways some people are trying to find in their desperation are not that much safer.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

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