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Train Crash Kills Wives of Jersey City Mayor, Peruvian Mayor

December 2, 1988

CUZCO, Peru (AP) _ Police said they were investigating whether steel rods found near railway tracks caused a train crash that killed the wives of the Jersey City and Cuzco mayors and injured the politicians.

A railway car carrying the couples careened off tracks in the Andes and tumbled down a ravine Thursday.

Officials of the state railroad company Enafer and police said steel rods were found near the derailment site. Police said they were looking into reports someone might have planted the rods to cause an accident during a daylong nationwide strike Thursday.

They said the likely target was a passenger train that was behind the tourist train, which was making an unscheduled trip.

Mayor Anthony Cucci of Jersey City, N.J., and Mayor Carlos Chacon of Cuzco, their wives and six other people were on an outing to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu when the crash occurred Thursday, officials said.

Authorities said Anna Cucci, about 60, and Doris Chacon, 58, died in the 3:30 p.m. crash.

The suvivors were treated at Cuzco’s Regional Hospital.

Dr. Luis Garcia, hospital director, said Cucci, 66, was suffering from multiple bruises but was in stable condition and appeared to be out of danger.

Garcia said Chacon was in serious condition with multiple fractures and internal bleeding. Chacon underwent surgery late Thursday, the hospital said.

Jersey City Councilman Jaime Vasquez, who was also on board, told reporters he suffered minor injuries.

The Cuccis arrived in Cuzco on Thursday morning and planned to participate in a sister city celebration honoring Jersy City and Cuzco, Vasquez said.

Officials said the conditions of the five other people in the car were not immediately available, but they were not believed to have been seriously injured.

The vehicle, a modified version of an 11-passenger bus outfitted for rail travel, crashed about six miles outside Cuzco, a tourist area 355 miles southeast of Lima, police said.

The rail car had left Cuzco about 2:45 p.m. on a specially scheduled trip to Machu Picchu, 60 miles northwest of Cuzco.

Police said the vehicle derailed and traveled about 30 feet along the tracks before going over a hill and tumbling 250 feet down a ravine.

Some passengers apparently were able to escape before the car began rolling. Garcia said preliminary indications were that the women died of skull fractures.

They said the likely target of possible sabotage was a passenger train that uses the same tracks to carry residents between Cuzco and Quillabamba, 20 miles beyond Machu Picchu.

That passenger train left the Cuzco station shortly after the tourist car, officials said.

In an effort to paralyze business activity, strikers Thursday blocked a mountain road between the cities with logs and rocks, officials said, adding possible saboteurs might have wanted to completely severe transportation by derailing the passenger train.

Machu Picchu is a citadel hidden on a jungle mountaintop.

In June 1986, a bomb exploded on a train headed for Machu Picchu. Eight people, including an American, were killed. Guerrillas of the Maoist Shining Path were suspected of planting the bomb.

Update hourly