The guests were on an independent, private tour, not affiliated with the cruise line. A bus carrying cruise ship tourists plunged 300 feet down a mountainside in northern Chile Wednesday, killing 12 Americans, U.S. and Chilean officials said.
The driver reported that he lost control of the bus while swerving to avoid a truck approaching on a collision course, Poli said. The bus went off the narrow highway and tumbled down a steep mountainside.
He said the bus, which had a capacity of 16 passengers, "was totally destroyed."
The accident occurred 25 miles northeast of Arica on the road leading deep into the high Andes Mountains, connecting the coast with the Bolivian capital of La Paz.
Two other U.S. tourists and two Chileans — the driver and the tour guide — were hospitalized in serious condition following the crash along a rugged highway near the Pacific port city of Arica, 1,250 miles north of Santiago, said Juan Carlos Poli, an Arica city hall spokesman.
The accident occurred at approximately 4:30 p.m. local time. The injured were taken to a local hospital. A doctor, nurse and other staff members from Millennium were sent to the hospital and will remain there to assist the injured, family members and local authorities.
Celebrity Cruises is flying family members of those killed and injured to Chile Thursday.
Celebrity Cruises will hold a press conference at 9 a.m. EST Thursday regarding the accident. The press conference will take place at the company’s world headquarters, at 1080 Caribbean Way, Miami, Florida (at the Port of Miami).
Celebrity Cruises has established two toll-free phone lines for family members of guests sailing on this cruise. Callers in North America should dial 1-888-829-4050. Callers from outside North America should dial the following number collect 305-539-4050. These numbers are for family members only, and the company requests that the general public not use these numbers so family members of those onboard the ship may receive information in a timely manner.
The cause of the accident has not been determined, and Celebrity Cruises will be actively involved in the investigation.
Millennium departed Valparaiso, Chile, on March 19, on a 14-night sailing that is scheduled to conclude in Fort Lauderdale on April 2. The accident occurred on the fourth day of the cruise and the ship will remain in Arica, Chile, until further notice.
Celebrity Cruises will provide additional information regarding this matter as it becomes available. Information will also be posted on the Celebrity Cruises web site at . www.celebrity.com