by EDWARD PINTO Section Editor
Thirty-three children were killed in a Colombian bus fire on Sunday, May 18 as people watched hopelessly as the bus burned.
The bus was traveling from a mass session in a local church, carrying 48 children in total between the ages of 2 to 13. Residents heard the cries for help from the children and rushed to the scene, but did not want to get burned.
Some witnesses say that they saw the driver pour gasoline on the carburetor after the bus did not start. The bus caught a spark and soon an explosion was heard while the fire blazed over the bus.
There were 15 escapees in total, but most of them suffered from third degree burns and some died on Monday morning. One brave individual, Rosiris Hernandez, was seen helping some children evacuate the bus with a taxi driver helping him.
The actual bus driver was seen fleeing the scene after the bus caught on fire, and was later arrested by the local police.
The bus driver was found with a non-valid drivers license, and the bus lacked a recent safety inspection. The bus did not have an emergency exit, which is a huge factor that could have led to many more survivals.
“I think it is terrible what happened in Colombia. I’ve been on buses many times before and I could never imagine getting trapped in one, needing to escape to survive. The kids are in a better place now and prayers go out to all the families,” said sophomore Mike Manharry.
Scientists and forensic analysts went to the scene to identify all the bodies, but only ID’d a select few because others were so burnt you could not see their face.
One child, Antonio Jose Pavon, died in the hospital after suffering third degree burns.
The president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, visited the town on Sunday evening and declared a national mourning day for the town. Santos, who is running for reelection, is trying his best to get people on his side by saying the government would cover all costs of the funerals.
While investigators were covering the children with white bags, police had to detain the crowd as some of them turned violent and angry. Parents of the children were taken to the local police station to help officers identify their children.
“I actually saw that on the news earlier this week, but I did not really know anything about it until now. I rarely go on any buses but I feel really bad for the families that have to go through such a tough time, and I wish them all the best,” said sophomore Omar Pirzada.
What do you think about the bus fire? Do you think it could have been avoided or was the bus driver careless?