Six dead in Spain after a bus plunged off a bridge into a river

Six people died and two were injured after a passenger bus fell off a bridge and plunged into an overflowing river in north-west Spain, emergency services said on Sunday.

Two survivors – the 63-year-old driver of the vehicle and a female passenger – were pulled from the river with a rope by firefighters and taken to nearby hospitals with varying degrees of severity.

The driver tested negative for alcohol and drugs, a police spokesman told Reuters.

The spokesman added that the search and rescue operation around the bridge was now complete while engineers tried to find a way to safely retrieve the wreck from the Lerez River.

The river’s strong current and high flow due to heavy rains that swept across the Galicia region hampered efforts to recover the bodies all weekend.

The Monbus coach was traveling between the cities of Lugo and Vigo on Saturday night and stopped in a prison near the accident site.

It veered off a straight road on the bridge for unexplained reasons and crashed into the water around 21.30 local time (2030 GMT) falling at least 40 meters (131 ft).

Rescue workers were first alerted by a call from a passerby who noticed that the bridge’s protective barrier had been badly damaged. Shortly thereafter, they received a second call from inside the bus as it was being filled with water.

The river remained above its overflow threshold throughout the night, forcing rescue workers to suspend operations for almost two hours before resuming in the morning.

Authorities initially reported, based on the driver’s statements, that there were a total of nine people on board the bus when it fell, although the number is now eight based on missing persons reports from relatives.

The regional president of Galicia, Alfonso Rueda, referred to the “very bad” weather conditions as one of the possible causes of the accident.

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