Ecija bus crash kills 27
Forty-five seater dives into Dalton Pass ravine
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—At least 27 people were reported to have died when a 45-seater bus plunged 80 feet into a ravine at the Dalton Pass section of the Maharlika Highway.
Senior Insp. Robert de Guzman, OIC of Carranglan police, said the accident took place in Barangay Capintalan, Carranglan, Nueva Ecija before noon Tuesday.
Initial reports from responders indicated that some 26 passengers may have died at the crash site. One survivor was taken to the hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival, bringing the number of fatalities to at least 27.
Carranglan police who first entered the site said the bus was a total wreck.
Bystanders said the speeding Leomaric bus, which took off from Tuguegarao City bound for Ilocos Sur and Abra, may have been overloaded.
The bus plunged about 24 meters into a ravine before noon after its brakes failed while traveling on a winding road, police and local officials said.
“The vehicle is totally wrecked,” said De Guzman, police chief of the town of Carranglan where the accident occurred. The impact appeared to have ripped the top off the vehicle, he added.
“Almost all of the passengers, both dead and injured, were found outside the bus.”
Authorities were still investigating the cause of the accident but Carranglan Mayor Mary Abad told ABS-CBN television there were 60 passengers onboard although the bus had a capacity of only 45.
Abad said the wounded, some of whom sustained critical injuries, were rushed to nearby hospitals.
“The road is really risky. There are many ravines along that road going to Abra,” Abad said, referring to the northern province where the bus was headed.
Dr. Arlene Jara, chief of the nearby provincial hospital treating the wounded, said children were among those injured.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman Ernesto Abella expressed condolences to the families of the victims and said those responsible would be held accountable.
The Nueva Ecija accident was the fourth mishap this year and the third major road tragedy following the death of 15 students of the Best Link Colleges of the Philippines when the bus they were riding crashed into an electric post in Tanay, Rizal.
In March, two successive road accidents occurred in Zambales and Zamboanga City killing 11 and five people, respectively.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board issued on Tuesday a show-cause order on the minibus company that figured in the accident.
Aileen Lizada, the agency’s spokesperson and board member, said the bus operator has been summoned to a hearing on May 2 to explain why the firm’s franchise must not be revoked or canceled.
“We have issued a 30-day preventive suspension to stop the operation [of the company],” she told the Manila Standard.
She said the bus company had a franchise, and was not operating out of line.
“The company’s drivers must go through the usual drug testing and its vehicles through the road-worthiness inspection,” she said.