Ecuador Coach Crash Injuries
Twelve British survivors of a coach crash in Ecuador, in which five British tourists died, have been flown to the capital Quito for treatment.
The group, suffering from whiplash and minor facial and leg injuries, were almost three weeks into a 15-week trip visiting the Inca and Amazon on a series of volunteer projects.
A lorry, carrying a load of sand, crashed into the bus on Saturday April 12 in Sanca.
Three other passengers including two Ecuadorians and a French national also suffered injuries as the tour bus headed towards the coast.
The driver of the lorry left the scene.
Guide Sarah Howard (26), who for the travel company VentureCo died, as well as Gap-year students Indira Swann, 18, of Berks, Lizzie Pincock, 19, of Somerset, Rebecca Logie, 19, of Lancs, and Emily Sadler, 19, of Hertfordshire.
The surviving British tourists are expected to return home shortly and Ecuadorian authorities have begun an investigation, with British diplomats said to be assisting.
Clive Garner, Head of Travel law at Irwin Mitchell solicitors said: "Whilst we await the outcome of investigations into the circumstances surrounding this tragic crash, from our experience of representing hundreds of Briton's killed or injured in coach crashes across the world, the cause is often either driver error or fault on the part of the tour operator or others that they have employed.
"In previous cases this has included failing to employ appropriately experienced drivers, failing to monitor and supervise drivers to ensure they are driving safely and taking appropriate breaks, and in some cases failing to ensure that coaches have been properly and safely maintained.
"Many of the roads in Ecuador are known to be particularly hazardous and it is essential that the safest routes are selected and coach drivers take special care to drive safely given the road conditions.
"In the light of so many previous coach disasters over the last decade we have repeatedly called for stricter safety measures for coach travel to protect tourists around the world. All reasonable steps must be taken to protect passengers and minimise the risks of serious injuries and fatalities. More needs to be done urgently.
"These measures include stricter licensing and monitoring of coach drivers and operators, more rigorous maintenance and improved coach construction standards and the avoidance of dangerous routes by operators particularly in adverse weather conditions."