Bus overturns in Haiti river; death toll disputed

AP News
Posted: Jun 19, 2012 6:43 PM
Bus overturns in Haiti river; death toll disputed

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti's government said Tuesday that at least 40 people died in the country's south when a bus overturned in a rain-swollen river, but a local official reported a lower toll.

A statement issued by President Michel Martelly's office says about 60 people were on the bus when the driver attempted to cross the Glace River. It said that local civil protection officials have recovered the bodies of 40 people and are still searching the area. The statement said nine people were either rescued from the submerged bus or managed to swim to safety.

But Norman Wiener, an official from the Grand'Anse department, said the bus owner who collected money from the passengers told him that there were 27 people aboard and that only eight people are missing. Wiener said another 19 people survived.

The accident occurred Monday near the town of Pestel on Haiti's southern peninsula. Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, director of Haiti's office of civil protection, says the driver apparently ignored warnings not to try to cross the river. Jean-Baptiste said she could not confirm how many people died or survived.