Panama Suspends Migrant Transfers After Bus Accidents

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PANAMA CITY (AP) — The government of Panama temporarily suspended bus services that transfer migrants from the dangerous Darien Gap area to the north of the country Sunday after two serious mishaps aboard the vehicles.

Panama’s immigration agency said no more trips would take place until transport authorities reviewed the bus lines and ensured their safety.

Nobody died in the latest incident on Saturday, when a bus carrying migrants caught fire. All the passengers were evacuated safely.

But more than three dozen migrants died earlier this month when a bus plunged off a hillside. Most of the dead were believed to be migrants from Ecuador, Haiti and Venezuela.

Migrants frequently reach Panama by crossing the roadless, jungle-clad Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama. Panamanian authorities estimate that over 250,000 migrants made the dangerous land crossing in 2020, and so far this year another 37,000 are believed to have made the trip.

Panama often allows the migrants to travel to the border with Costa Rica, where the migrants generally try to cross Central America and Mexico to reach the U.S. southwestern border.

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