18 dead after truck slams into crowd on highway in Guatemala

Guatemala crash

Local fire department spokesman Cecilio Chacaj said people had apparently gathered on the highway to inspect a person who had been killed in a separate accident when the semi-trailer plowed into them.

Chilling images from the scene showed the victims' bodies in their brightly colored clothing laid out in a line on the asphalt, as relatives cried out in anguish.

The driver then fled the scene.

At least 18 people who gathered around the victim of a fatal traffic accident on a Guatemala highway Wednesday were themselves killed by a trailer truck that came around a curve and mowed them down.

Three of the dead were children, Chacaj said.

Eighteen people died in the crash, with another 15 people being treated for injuries at local hospitals.

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"After a chase, police officers managed to capture a man allegedly responsible for running over several people with a truck that was travelling at excessive speed in the municipality of Nahula", Castillo said.

It has been reported that an eight-year-old girl is among the deceased.

Early reports had put the number of those killed at about 30, but later Chacaj said that emergency personnel had recovered 18 bodies.

President Jimmy Morales offered his condolences to the victims' families and said his government was working to coordinate aid to those affected.

"We are now coordinating actions to provide all the support to the victims' families. I express my condolences", Morales wrote on Twitter.

Guatemala, a Central American country of some 16.5 million people, has a poor road safety record and traffic rules are frequently ignored.

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