BAMBANG, Nueva Vizcaya: At least 29 people died and scores were injured when a passenger bus plunged into a ravine at the boundary of Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya on Tuesday.
Witnesses said the LeoMarick bus was travelling from Cagayan Valley to Abra province via Candon City in Ilocos Sur when it fell into the 100-meter ravine in Capintalan, Carranglan, Nueva Ecija. Bystanders claimed that the bus had a passenger capacity of 45 but it was carrying 60 people when it crashed.
Initial reports said that 11 victims were rushed to the Rural Health Unit in Santa Fe town, two to the Indigenous Hospital in Aritao town and 13 to the Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Hospital (NVPH) in Bambang town but they were declared dead on arrival. Another victim died while being treated at the NVPH intensive care unit.
The Philippine National Red Cross and the Nueva Vizcaya Provincial rescue team led by Gov. Carlos Padilla helped retrieved the victims from the crash site.
Padilla said the bus, which was totally wrecked, had picked passengers from Nueva Vizcaya.
Ian Boy Fernandez, 31, who was taken to the Veterans Regional Hospital (VRH) in Nueva Vizcaya, said the bus overtook another passenger bus when suddenly the engine stopped and plunged downhill.
Fernandez said the driver could no longer control the bus when it plummeted into the ravine. He jumped from the bus when he noticed that the driver could no longer restart the engine and the bus was careening downhill.
Fernandez’s wife and son are being treated at the VRH along with 24 other passengers.
The identities of the victims have yet to be released.
The Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board immediately suspended the operations of Leomarick Trans, the bus company involved in the accident.
The LTFRB will inspect and determine the road worthiness of the company’s buses, check the certificates of registration and latest receipts from Land Transportation Office, and find out if the buses were installed with global navigation satellite system and registered with the Bus Management Information System.
WITH REICELENE JOY N. IGNACIO