Tourist Train Accident Kills Wives of U.S., Peruvian Mayors
CUCZO, Peru (AP) _ The wife of a New Jersey mayor and another woman were killed Thursday when their one-car tourist train derailed high in the Andes and tumbled down an embankment, officials said.
Eight people, including Jersey City, N.J., Mayor Anthony Cucci, were injured.
Jersey City Councilman Jaime Vasquez, who initially reported the derailment to the U.S. Embassy, told reporters he suffered only minor bruises.
Police said they were investigating reports that the tracks may have been sabotaged in connection with a general labor strike that was affecting the nation Thursday.
They said steel rods were found near the derailment site and might have been purposely placed on the tracks to cause an accident.
The single-car train, a bus outfitted to travel over rails, derailed about six miles outside Cuzco, a tourist mecca 355 miles southeast of Lima in the Andes Mountains, police said.
They said the vehicle derailed, traveled about 30 feet, went off a cliff and plunged 250 feet before coming to a stop.
Killed were Anna Cucci, about 60, and Doris Chacon, 58, wife of Cuzco Mayor Carlos Chacon, local police said.
Dr. Luis Garcia, director of Cuzco’s Regional Hospital, said Cucci, who is about 65, was in stable condition with multiple bruises.
He said Chacon was in serious condition suffering from multiple fractures and internal bleeding.
The conditions of the train driver and three policemen aboard were not immediately known.
The train had left Cuzco 45 minutes earlier on a special sightseeing trip to the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, about 60 miles northwest of Cuzco, police said.
Police said some of the passengers apparently were able to escape from the vehicle before it went over the cliff.
Garcia said preliminary reports indicated Mrs. Cucci and Mrs. Chacon died of skull fractures. An autopsy was scheduled for Friday.
The Cuccis arrived in Cuzco on Thursday morning and planned to participate in a sister city celebration honoring Jersy City and Cuzco.
A larger tourist train with several cars daily carries dozens of tourists, many from the United States and Europe, between Cuzco and Machu Picchu.
This was the first report of a serious accident involving the route since a bomb exploded on it in June 1986. Eight people were killed, including an American.