San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

15 Nicaraguans, 1 Dutch Tourist Die in Bus Massacre

The government of President Daniel Ortega on Monday expressed its condolences to the 15 Nicaraguan families who lost family members in a Guatemalan bus fire last weekend. A Dutch tourist was the other victim aboard the bus, which was found in rural eastern Guatemala.

Ortega reportedly contacted Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom to offer collaboration in helping to repatriate the bodies of the 15 people shot then burned on the bus.

Carlos Paiz Vanegas, brother of bus driver Jose Abraham Paiz Vanegas, told reporters that the group left Managua last Friday bound for Guatemala City.

For the moment, since the bodies were completely charred by the flames, the authorities have not been able to identify all of the victims.

At first authorities said that the victims were Guatemalan peasants who worked on melon plantations near the place the bus was found.

“We can’t be sure of their sexes or ages. The fire consumed parts of their bodies and even their teeth. It will take DNA tests to identify them,” said a spokesperson for Guatemala’s National Forensic Sciences Institute.

A relative of one of the victims said that in the last call he received from his loved one, the passenger told him the bus went through a checkpoint on the El Salvador-Guatemala border around 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

The assault on the bus, which is still being investigated by authorities, occurred Saturday night on the highway connecting the communities of La Reforma with La Fragua in the Guatemalan province of Zacapa.

According to officials, the charred bodies of all the victims were found still seated on the bus.

–Nica Times & EFE


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