A truck carrying Haitian sugar cane workers plunged from a cliff and overturned Friday, killing at least 50 people and injuring 40 others, authorities said.
Bodies were strewn around the overturned truck, but other people remained trapped for hours inside the wreckage. Red Cross rescue workers, soldiers and police found more than 20 bodies about 10 hours after the dawn accident.Officials said it was the worst traffic accident ever in the Dominican Republic.
They said the truck was traveling to Santo Domingo with about 100 Haitians who had been recruited for the annual sugar harvest when it crashed in the province of Dajabon, about 22 miles north of the capital. The Dominican Republic shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with impoverished Haiti.
Police said the dead were 41 men, six children and three women. All victims were Haitian except for a Dominican policeman.
About 40 injured passengers were being treated at Santo Domingo hospitals. Doctors said at least 13 Haitians were in serious condition.
Police said they were searching for the truck driver, who apparently survived the accident. Survivors told police the driver had been drinking and flung himself from the vehicle as it rolled down the hill.
The truck missed a curve on a cliff, overturned and plunged into a ravine, the officials said.
Julio Guerrero, spokesman for the State Sugar Council, which operates 12 of the country's 16 mills, said the council was not responsible for transporting the Haitians.
Every year, Dominicans recruit an estimated 19,000 poor Haitians at low wages for the tortuous work of cutting sugar cane.
Marcelino de la Cruz, an official at the Dominican Human Rights Center, denounced the recruitment of Haitians, calling it "slavery."