Death toll climbs to 24 in tanker truck collision in south Mexico

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Image taken by a mobile device shows debris at the site where a head-on collision between a gas tanker truck and a passenger bus occurred on a highway in Mexico's southern state of Guerrero, on April 13, 2017. The death toll from a head-on collision between a gas tanker truck and a passenger bus in south Mexico on Thursday climbed to 24, officials told Xinhua. (Xinhua/Str)

MEXICO CITY (Xinhua) – The death toll from a head-on collision between a gas tanker truck and a passenger bus in south Mexico on Thursday climbed to 24, officials told Xinhua.

Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto has expressed his condolences to the relatives of the victims via Twitter.

The tanker was loaded with fuel when it crashed, and exploded into flames a little more than a minute after impact.

The accident occurred at or before 6:30 a.m. (11:30 GMT) along a stretch of highway in the town of Petacalco, Guerrero, near the Pacific port of Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan.

The Century 21 Highway, which connects central Mexico with the busy industrial port, was closed for several hours during the heavy traffic of Holy Week, as vacationers headed to the coast.

Cesar Mayeres, Guerrero’s secretary of civil protection, said state forensic experts reported a total of 24 victims by 2 p.m. local time (19:00 GMT), when forensic operations at the site were practically concluded.

Both drivers of the two vehicles are among the dead.

Another nine people, ranging in age from three to 56, were injured in the accident and were taken to a hospital in Lazaro Cardenas for treatment, Mayeres said.

The cause of the collision is still under investigation, said Mayeres.

The bus passengers were all members of one family and their neighbors who had rented the vehicle to travel from Morelia, the capital of Michoacan, to either Zihuatanejo or Acapulco, both beach resorts in Guerrero, for Easter weekend.