4 killed, 14 others injured in Makati bus explosion
"Apat ang patay at 14 ang injured (Four are dead and 14 are injured)," Metro Manila police chief Director Nicanor Bartolome told dzRH radio in interview.
The blast occurred inside a Newman Goldliner air-conditioned bus (TXJ-710) shortly before 2 p.m., according to a report on dzBB radio quoting Senior Superintendent Froilan Bonifacio, Makati Police chief. The bus was bound for Fairview in Quezon City from Baclaran.
President Benigno Aquino III, at a briefing in Malacañang, said the explosion could be the handiwork of terrorists, although he did not say which group could be responsible pending the investigation of the police.
“Tignan muna natin ang ebidensiya bago maghusga (Let’s look at the evidence first before passing judgment). I don’t want to libel anybody. I have my suspicions pero hindi ako pwedeng mag-engage sa haka-haka (but I could not engage in speculations)," Aquino said.
It was the second bus-related incident since Monday, when rush-hour traffic along the elevated Manila-bound portion of the Skyway was snarled after a passenger bus caught fire. No one was hurt in that incident.
Bartolome said police in Metro Manila are now on full alert following Tuesday’s explosion.
A report on dzRH radio said the casualties were brought to the following hospitals:
Reports reaching Malacañang said the blast was caused by an explosive device placed inside the bus.
“The cause of the explosion is that it was some sort of explosive device placed in the vicinity of the middle of the bus," said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a text message.
He said the information came from the ground commander of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
Lacierda said authorities have yet to determine the exact type of the explosive device used. He said the area has been secured as the police are now conducting an investigation.
“We are being updated should there be any change to these preliminary reports," he said.
The dzBB report said the incident occurred near the corner of EDSA and Buendia Avenue, near the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) station.
Those injured were rushed to the Ospital ng Makati and to St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig City.
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Interviewed by radio dzBB, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said at least one of the passengers had to have one leg amputated. "Ang initial report may naputulan na leg ang isang pasahero (Initial reports showed one of the passengers had to have one leg amputated)," he said.
One of the passengers, identified as Mark Acal, said the explosion may have occurred at the bus' middle part. "Di napapansin ng pasahero kasi nanonood ng TV. Ang bus galing MRT station Buendia nang sumabog (We did not notice the explosion immediately because we were watching television on the bus)," he said.
Michael Jaralve, the bus’ conductor, told case investigators that he noticed two suspicious-looking men before the explosion. He said the two, one in his 30’s and another in his late 20’s, boarded the bus in Baclaran.
Jaralve said the two, both carrying bags and were about 5’5" in height, originally told him they were heading to Ayala Avenue, but got off the bus in Evangelista Street. “Hindi pa ‘yun ‘yung babaan nila dapat (They were not supposed to alight there)," he said in an interview aired over GMA News’ “24 Oras."
Jaralve sustained wounds on his legs.
Bus driver Maximo Peligro said he was sure the explosion was caused by an explosive device and not a mechanical failure.
“Kung normal lang na putok ‘yon sa makina, hindi amoy pulbura (If that was a mechanical failure, it would not smell like gunpowder)," Peligro said in a separate interview, also aired on “24 Oras."
The bus, which could accommodate 60 persons, was only half-full when the explosion occurred, the report said.
A report from GMA News reporter Susan Enriquez said Vice President Jejomar Binay, former Makati City mayor, immediately rushed to the scene. — with Amita Legaspi and Paterno Esmaquel II/LBG/KBK, GMANews.TV