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Massacre in nation's heart: Timeline of Manila bus siege

(Updated 6:00 p.m., August 26, 2010) The day started with a group of Hong Kong tourists happily visiting historical Fort Santiago. It ended horrifically in Luneta, last seen on television in President Aquino's moment of ascendancy. GMANews.TV has constructed a timeline of the hostage drama that ended in massacre, not in some faraway province but in the heart of the nation. The following chronology of events on August 23 is based on the live coverage of GMA News and Super Radyo DZBB, and reports from BusinessWorld and Malaya newspapers:

  • 10:00 a.m. – A bus carrying 25 passengers, including tourists from Hong Kong and some Filipinos, leaves Fort Santiago in Intramuros to make its way for Manila Ocean Park. In Intramuros, dismissed Manila Police Mobile Patrol Unit chief Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza also boards the bus. Mendoza announces he is taking the 25 passengers hostage and stops the bus in front of Quirino Grandstand. Initial reports mistakenly identify the hostages as Korean nationals.
  • Before 11:37 a.m. - On QTV, Theresa Andrada reports that by this time two hostages have already been released.
  • 12:01 p.m. - Negotiations are ongoing between Manila Police and the hostage-taker. At this point, three hostages have been released.
  • 12:05 p.m. – Four more hostages are released, including three Chinese children.
    Photo by Danny Pata
  • Around 12:30 p.m. - Korean embassy officials confirm that there are no Korean nationals on the bus.
  • Before 2:00 p.m. - The hostage-taker releases an elderly man. By this time he has posted a message on the bus window that reads, "Big mistake to correct a big wrong decision."
  • 2:05 p.m. - Mendoza posts a second message on the bus window that reads "Big deal will start after 3 p.m. today Mendoza."
  • 2:18 p.m. - Mendoza posts a third message: "3 PM today deadlock" and releases one of the hostages, a young man.
  • Before 2:50 p.m. - By this time, food and gas have been delivered to the bus. Some of the hostages can still be seen peeking through the bus windows.
  • 3:00 p.m. - Negotiators agree to refuel the bus as as Mendoza's 3 p.m. deadline passes. Mendoza's brother SPO4 Gregorio Mendoza talks to him on the phone and convinces him to extend his deadline. [Read: Ex-cop holds tourist bus passengers hostage in Manila]
  • 3:28 p.m. - Mendoza posts a fourth message on the windows of the bus demanding for "media now."
  • 4:00 p.m. - The hostaged tour group's Filipino photographer is the ninth hostage to be released.
  • 4:43 p.m. - Police deliver a box of food to the hostages. [See Michael Fajatin's Flash report: Negotiations in Manila hostage-taking ongoing]
    Photo by Danny Pata
  • Around 5:00 p.m. - Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang tries to call Malacanang but is unable to reach President Noynoy Aquino.
  • 6:00 p.m. -- The hostage-taker receives a letter from the Office of the Ombudsman promising a review of his case. [See video story: Ombudsman Gutierrez: We are not to blame for the bloody end of hostage-taking}
  • 7:10 p.m. – Police arrest SPO4 Gregorio Mendoza after he becomes agitated. The hostage taker, who is monitoring the news on television, angrily tells an RMN anchor over the phone that he will start firing at the tourists if his brother is taken away. According to RMN, this is the last time Mendoza is heard on the air.
    Photo by Danny Pata
  • 7:21 p.m. - Two shots, followed by several more, are heard from the bus. GMA reporter Emil Sumangil reports that snipers have fired at the wheels of the bus to immobilize the vehicle.
  • 7:30 p.m. - The bus driver escapes, going straight to the mobile command of the National Capital Region Police Office and shouting that all the hostages had been killed.
  • 7:37 p.m. - Members of a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team start to surround the bus. They use a sledge hammer to break down the door of the bus.
    Photo by Danny Pata
  • 7:39 p.m. - Emil Sumangil reports that three more gunshots were fired from inside the bus.
  • 7:40 p.m. - Two loud gunshots hit the outside of the bus.
  • 7:41 p.m. - Two police mobile units approach the bus from the side.
  • 7:45 p.m. - Mike Enriquez reports that the mobile units have moved to behind the bus and attempt to break the bus windows from behind.
  • 7:51 p.m. - Police lob tear gas inside the bus.
  • 8:04 p.m. - Another round of shots is heard, but it is unclear if it came from inside the bus.
  • 8:10 p.m. - Police tug at the rope to pull the bus door open, but it snaps a few minutes later. One hostage could be seen slumped near the front door of the bus.
  • 8:23 p.m. - Several rounds of automatic gunfire are heard. At this point, teargas smoke is seen coming from the windows of the bus. A bystander is hit by a stray bullet.
    Photo by Danny Pata
  • 8:40 p.m. -Shots are fired again, though it is unclear whether they were coming from inside or outside the bus, which has been surrounded by police.
  • 8:43 p.m. No longer ducking gunfire, police begin to approach the bus. They seem to be signaling to bystanders and media that the area has been secured. The lifeless body of the hostage-taker is seen hanging out the door of the bus. Michael Fajatin reports that snipers have shot and killed the hostage-taker.
    Photo by Danny Pata
  • 8:45 p.m. Civilians, media, police, and ambulances begin to crowd around the bus.
  • 8:47 p.m. - Police manage to open the rear emergency exit. No movement is seen inside the bus, but a light comes on. Police hesitate in entering the bus but eventually force their way in. Several hostages are seen walking out, while others are carried on stretchers and brought to waiting ambulances.
    AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
  • 8:55 p.m.- One of the surviving hostages, a middle-aged woman dressed in white, cries hysterically as she is removed from the bus. Surviving hostages are taken to nearby hospitals for treatment.
  • Around 10:00 p.m. - The Hong Kong Security Bureau issues a black alert warning for the Philippines, advising its citizens to avoid any and all travel to the country. [Read:HK issues travel ban to RP after hostage crisis] AUGUST 24, 2010
  • President Aquino gives a press conference about the hostage crisis. [Read: President Aquino's statement on the Manila hostage crisis]
  • President Aquino declares August 25, 2010 as a National Day of Mourning for the victims of the hostage-taking.
  • Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi phones Albert Romulo to demand that the Philippine government investigate police handling of the hostage-taking. Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang also lashes out at the Philippine government's handling of the situation, calling it "disappointing." AUGUST 25, 2010
  • Two days after the hostage-crisis ends, Manila Police District (MPD) head Chief Superintendent Rodolfo Magtibay offers to go on leave from his post. Four team leaders of the Manila police Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit are also relieved of their posts. — Jerrie Abella/Pia Faustino/LBG/YA/HS, GMANews.TV