Argentine police bus crashes, killing dozens; some still trapped

CNN reports a major rescue operation is underway as at least 15 officers are still trapped.

A bus drove off a bridge in the Salta province, north of Argentina on 14 December 2015. The cause of the predawn accident, in which the bus with 60 police officers aboard plunged some 15 metres into a dry riverbed, was unclear. Picture: AFP.

BUENOS AIRES - A bus carrying Argentine border patrol officers crashed down into a ravine in the northern province of Salta on Monday, killing about 30 people, provincial emergency director Ernesto Flores told local radio station La Red.

"We are talking about close to 30 dead," he said.

"Between 50 and 60 border patrol officers were on board. Some are still trapped."

The bus was carrying officers from Argentina's gendarmerie, which patrols the country's borders. Salta borders Bolivia, Chile and Paraguay.

Border security has become a hot issue in Argentina as the country has emerged as part of a route used for smuggling Andean cocaine to Europe and for human traffickers sending Syrian refugees to the Western Hemisphere.

Some press reports estimated as many as 40 people were killed, and rescue crews were working to free others who were trapped.

President Mauricio Macri, elected last month on a platform that included improving Argentina's rural roads, sent his condolences to families of the victims of the crash.

"We need to improve our highways so these things don't keep happening," he told reporters on the sidelines of a news conference in Buenos Aires province.