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Police: 40 killed, 9 hurt in Benguet bus crash

August 18, 2010 12:09pm

Tags: Benguet
(Update 4 — 2:40 am Aug. 19) The death toll from the passenger bus that fell into a ravine in Benguet province on Wednesday may reach 40, police said, even as the government’s disaster agency said the fatalities have already reached 42.

Nine people, including the driver and bus conductor, survived the tragedy.

Senior Superintendent Wilben Mayor, provincial police director, told GMANews.TV that 39 passengers of the La Union-bound Eso-Nice bus from Baguio City died on the spot when the bus plunged into a 100-foot deep ravine off Naguilian Road in Barangay Banangan in Sablan town.

Mayor said the bodies of the passengers killed in the road incident — which happened at about 9:20 a.m. — have already been brought to a funeral parlor.

The 40th fatality, still trapped inside the bus according to earlier reports, has already been retrieved by late Wednesday evening.

"Iyong isang katawan, naipit pa doon sa makina at nahihirapan ngayon tanggalin [One fatality got pinned by the engine of the bus and rescuers couldn't pull the body out]," Mayor said.

Nine others, including driver Romeo Subang and bus conductor Jon Patrick Flores, are being treated at the Baguio City General Hospital. The other survivors were passengers Jerome Vandez, Juan Dray Corcea, John Jay Lucar, Desiree Lucar, Jay Angelo Gundran and Arnel Paras.

The identity of the ninth survivor was not available as of posting time.

A separate report on GMA's Flash Report quoted authorities as saying that 41 people were killed in the accident, including 2 children and an infant.

An initial investigation showed that Subang was driving the bus at high speed down the road when he failed to shift gear due to a "mechanical defect" on the vehicle.

As a result, the bus went off the road and plunged some 50 meters down a ravine.

Mayor said they are eyeing charges both against the driver and the bus conductor. Flores reportedly survived after jumping off the vehicle before it plummeted down the ravine.

Conflicting reports

In another interview after the rescue team concluded its operations, Mayor said the number of fatalities ranges from 38 to 40, with other bodies yet to be confirmed and identified.

“The numbers given by funeral parlors are conflicting but so far, at least 38 are confirmed. But we think the number may reach as many as 40," Mayor said.

A release from the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), however, said the dead victims now number 42, including driver Subang.

Among the fatalities were US nationals Rose Nichole Quinio, 11 years old; Michael Frederick Quinio, 7; Rosamin Carantes Quinio, 35; and Frederick Quinio 43; and an Indian national, Albert Anthony, 45.

The other victims who died, based on the NDCC’s list, are Jonjon Dimalanta, Amethys Calado, Berio Almasen, Glen Lustica, Rex Arsito, Joey Combis, Ariane Combis, Marlon Paleg, Gabion Pilay, Poblito Dioares, Roger Florida, Pastora Dawey, Karen Mae Piluden, Constantino Casugay, Octavio Polon, Francisco Sales, Oscar Dumo, Myra Santiago, Renato Limit, Carlos Angeles, and Enrique Lim.

At least 15 other persons have yet to be identified, the NDCC added.

Mayor said there are no more bodies to be retrieved, and the bus will be lifted by the bus company tomorrow from the ravine where it fell.


Transportation Assistant Secretary Dante Lantin, officer-in-charge of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), has promptly suspended the franchise of the Eso-Nice Transit.

Quoted in a radio dzMM report, Lantin said he has already informed the owner of the bus to submit an explanation about the incident.

The LTFRB official also said he has scheduled a hearing about the matter for next week.

Transportation Regional Director Federico Mandapat assured families of the killed passengers that they would be receiving an insurance of P60,000.

The insurance would also include at least P12,500 in medical assistance to the injured victims.

Mandapat, in a separate radio report, said the drivers of Eso-Nice Bus will be subjected under driving examinations to check if they are indeed qualified to drive such vehicles.

Previous accidents in the same area

This is not the first time that a vehicular tragedy occurred in that accident-prone section of the Naguilian Road, located along a mountainous part of the province and is known for its blind curves.

According to another 24-Oras report, a bus likewise figured in another deadly accident over a decade ago while negotiating the same curve where the Eso-Nice bus reportedly lost its brakes.

In that accident in January 1999, 30 people were recorded dead while 19 others sustained injuries.

At least three more vehicular accidents were recorded in the next years along Naguilian Road, the main artery connecting Baguio and nearby Benguet towns to the Ilocos coast.

Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan said while Naguilian Road passed road safety standards, it still needs additional structures.

For Naguilian Road, OK naman ang grading, kaya lang kailangan ng mga warning signs. Saka dapat lagyan ng parapet, para imbis na mahulog ang bus, babangga na lang sa may parapet."

(For Naguilian Road, the grading is OK, but warning signs are needed. And the road needs parapets, so that instead of falling off, vehicles going out of control will merely slam into the parapet.) — LBG/RSJ, GMANews.TV
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Tags: Benguet

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