Three Columbia University students died Wednesday when a bus in which they were traveling swerved off a road in Honduras and plunged into a ravine, according to reports.
The victims were identified as Olivia Erhardt, 19, a sophomore at Columbia College; Daniella Moffson, 21, a junior at Columbia affiliate Barnard College; and Abigail Flanagan, 45, a nurse practitioner at Columbia University Medical Center and a General Studies student.
The students were in Honduras on a humanitarian trip, Columbia president Lee C. Bollinger said in a statement, adding that a number of other Columbia students were on the bus and were receiving medical care.
NBC News said at least 12 other Americans were on the bus, many of them students.
The bus fell at least 260 feet into a ravine east of Honduras’ capital, Tegucigalpa, reports the New York Daily News, which quoted a local firefighter who said mechanical failure may have contributed to the crash.
The other injured Americans were all in stable condition, according to an administrator at the Valle de Angeles Adventist Hospital in Tegucigalpa, reports the New York Post.
The students were said to be on their way to the airport to fly home after doing work for humanitarian group Global Brigades.
“Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to all affected by tragedy,” Global Brigades co-founder and chief empowerment officer Steven Atamian said in a statement on the organization’s website. “We are actively working to communicate with affected families and to provide all available support and assistance in response to this terrible accident.”
Bollinger said Columbia was in the process of sending medical and other personnel to Honduras.
“The students who were not badly injured and who are able to return to the United States are in the process of doing so,” he added. “We have contacted the families of all involved and are closely monitoring the situation to render all the help we can.”
Bollinger added: “This terrible and tragic loss is all the greater because these individuals were dedicating their passion and very special talents to serving those in need. No endeavor more proudly exemplifies the traditions and values of our University.”