31 children burn to death in Colombia bus accident.
Bogota: Thirty-one children were burned to death when their bus
caught fire and exploded in northern Colombia on Sunday, the Red Cross
said. Another 25 people - including one adult - were injured and
seriously burned in the blaze at the town of Fundacion, in the
department of Magdalena, Cesar Uruena with the Colombian Red Cross told
AFP. "The injured have second and third-degree burns, and many are
still in a critical condition" in hospitals in the area and in the
city of Santa Marta, Uruena said. The children aboard the bus were
between the ages of one and eight and were returning home after a
religious service, Fundacion Mayor Luz Stella Duran told reporters.
Magdalena police told AFP that the bus exploded around noon, and that
the fire was so intense they had problems determining the number of
casualties. Stella Duran said that - according to survivors - the bus
driver had been handling a container with gasoline aboard the vehicle.
Police initially blamed the fire on a mechanical problem. The driver has
vanished, and angry locals went to his home and threw rocks at his
windows, the mayor said. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos traveled
to Fundacion after a final re-election campaign rally Sunday in Bogota
ahead of the May 25 presidential vote. "The entire country is in
mourning for the death of these children," Santos said upon
arriving in Fundacion, accompanied by his wife. Santos said that the
government would pay for all hospital and funeral expenses relating to
the accident. The bus, which was being used by an evangelical church
group, caught fire one block away from the church where the children had
earlier attended services. The Red Cross said it was sending four
psychologists and two volunteer specialists in psychosocial aid to help
the wounded and the relatives of those killed.
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