Panama migrant bus plunges off road killing 39

At least 39 people died in Panama when a bus carrying migrants hoping to reach the US plunged into a ravine.

The bus was heading north and was near the Costa Rica border when the driver reportedly tried to turn round, having mistakenly passed a migrant hostel.

There were 66 passengers on the bus and about 20 injured are now in hospital, officials said. Officials did not disclose the victims' nationalities.

Thousands of migrants risk their lives crossing Panama's swampy Darién Gap.

Last year, those numbers surged to a record 248,000 migrants, most of them Venezuelans. Migrants from Haiti and Cuba also take the long overland route.

The crash in Gualaca district is reported to be the worst accident involving migrants in Panama's history. It is not clear why the driver lost control on the twisting road; some reports speak of a collision with a minibus.

Panama's President Laurentino Cortizo said: "The government extends its condolences to the families of those killed in this accident, and reiterates its commitment to continue providing humanitarian aid and decent conditions to deal with irregular migration."