Twelve people died at the scene and five more in hospital after a bus plunged off an overpass in Brazil onto railway tracks below. The driver of the bus jumped out and fled the scene, police said.

The incident on Friday shut off a portion of route BR-381 in João Monlevade, a municipality in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, about 100 kilometers east of Belo Horizonte.

Video from the scene showed bystanders looking at the wreckage of the bus in the ravine at least 50 feet (15 meters) below the overpass.

Bus cae de un paso elevado en la ciudad de João Monlevade, en Minas Gerais, Brasil 🇧🇷 Según información preliminar, hay 11 muertos y 29 heridos.

Local hospitals were overwhelmed by the number of victims, firefighters reported. Civil police of Minas Gerais said 11 people were killed on the spot and 29 were injured, three of which succumbed to their injuries later. By Friday evening, however, the authorities updated the count to 17 dead.

Um ônibus caiu de uma ponte de aproximadamente 15 metros de altura na BR-381, rodovia que liga Belo Horizonte, em Minas Gerais, a Vitória, no Espírito Santo.#RádioBandeirantes#TradiçãoNoRá

While the cause of the crash is still being investigated, police have mentioned brake failure as a possibility. The Brazilian daily Folha cited unconfirmed reports the bus had collided with a truck.

The driver jumped out of the bus before it dropped off the bridge and fled on foot, Federal Highway Police spokesman Aristides Amaral Júnior told reporters. Police are now looking for him.

Tragédia na BR 381 deixa pelo menos 11 mortos e 29 feridos após ônibus tombar em Minas Gerais

João Monlevade is a community of some 80,000 residents in Brazil’s interior, some 500 kilometers north of Rio de Janeiro.

The people on board weren’t locals, however. The bus belongs to the company called Localima Turismo and was carrying passengers from Mata Grande to São Paulo – a trip of some 2,300 kilometers – TV Globo reported.

The company operated under an emergency court injunction and the vehicle in question was “not qualified to provide passenger transport service,” Brazilian transportation agency ANTT said. 

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