A bus carrying members of a Chilean military band skidded off a precipice in the rain and fell into a river Sunday, killing 18 people and injuring nine, police said.

The bus was carrying 26 members of a band from the Chacabuco regiment along with the driver when it plunged into the Tucapel river in central Chile, according to police commander Juan Marcos Gonzalez and radio reports.

The military personnel were heading to Canete, 400 miles south of the capital Santiago, to perform at a ceremony to honor the city's founding.

The bus was traveling on a curved, rain-slicked stretch of road just north of Canete, by the Quelen Quelen bridge, when it went off the 50-foot-high precipice, Interior Minister Belisario Velasco said.

Gonzalez said 18 members of the military band were killed and nine injured.

The bus was completely submerged in the river and the slippery rocks on the banks of the Tucapel were hampering rescue efforts. Gonzalez said police specialists were searching the river for survivors.

The band members were traveling to Canete from Concepcion, 322 miles south of Santiago.