A tanker truck hauling toxic ammonium chloride slammed into a passenger bus in northwest Mexico, killing 38 people as both vehicles plunged down an embankment, police said Wednesday. The bus flipped onto its roof in Tuesday night's crash and the tanker spilled it load of 25 tons of ammonium chloride, officials said.
Most of the victims had skin damage caused by chemical burns and authorities were trying to determine if the ammonium chloride contributed to their deaths.
"The majority … had apparently ingested ammonia, as well as having various contusions," Jesus Martin Robles, chief regional investigator for the Sinaloa state Attorney General's office, said a written report.
The dead included four children, 10 men and 24 women, according to his report. Two men and two women were injured and were being treated at local hospitals.
The driver of the tanker, who was among the dead, lost control of his vehicle on a curve possibly as a result of brake problems and crashed into the rear of the bus. A police report said both vehicles then plunged down slopes on the side of the highway.
Television images showed a twisted truck laying on its side near the highway.
Federal police and gas experts from state-run Mexican oil company Pemex sealed off the area.
The bus was operated by a company that provides passenger service on local routes.
The 1993-model tanker truck was carrying the load of ammonia from a Pacific ocean port to be used as fertilizer.
A separate accident early Wednesday on a highway between Mexico City and the central city of Queretaro killed six people and injured at least 36 others, said Luis Rivera, director of emergency response for Mexico state, which borders the capital. The crash involved a passenger bus and a cargo truck, Rivera said, reports the AP. I.L.