Police officers prepare salvage a vehicle that collided with a Colombian-registered bus traveling to Quito, in Pifo, Ecuador, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. At least 24 people were killed and another 19 injured when a bus careened into another vehicle at high speed and overturned along the Pifo-Papallacta highway, near Ecuador's capital, local officials reported. (AP Photo/Carlos Noriega)

Bogota - A bus that crashed in Ecuador this week killing 24 people was carrying 80 kilograms of cocaine, Colombian authorities said Thursday.

The drug was hidden under false floors, the attorney general's office said.

Another 20 people were seriously injured when the bus, which was travelling from Colombia, crashed into another vehicle around 40 kilometres east of Quito on Tuesday and tipped over.

Colombian police said the passengers, who were mostly Colombians as well as some Venezuelans and Ecuadorians, had been used as a distraction to mislead authorities.

Relatives of the victims told Colombia's El Tiempo newspaper that they had been invited on the trip for free and that it was to go as far as Peru.

The paper also reported that the bus, which belonged to Colombian transport company Cotrans, did not have the proper permits to travel outside the country.

A spokesman for the company confirmed that the vehicle was affiliated with Cotrans but said it had not authorized the trip abroad.

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