More than 50 people have died after a tour bus plunged off a ridge into a wooded ravine in the mountains of southern Brazil. The death toll stands at 54 but could yet increase, the Brazilian government said, with at least 11 children among the dead. The bus fell 1,300ft after swerving off a bend in Santa Catarina state as night fell, with search teams struggling to reach the wreckage.
Earlier today, when the death toll stood at 49, local officials said 11 children and teenagers had died, as well as 24 women and 14 men. Since then five more bodies were found. More bodies could yet be discovered under the bus and in nearby woods, officials warned, as police officers and rescuers began efforts to move the wreckage. Just 11 passengers are thought to have survived the crash near the city of Joinville last night, of which 10 remain in hospital with severe injuries and one is in a stable condition.
Highway and weather conditions at the time were good as the bus made its way from the neighbouring state of Parana, a police spokesman said. Although no immediate cause for the crash had been determined, police said it appeared the brakes on the bus had failed. A rescue helicopter was sent to the scene near Serra Dona Francisca – a popular tourist area – but could not land because of the difficult terrain, local reports said.