19 dead after bus plunges off cliff in Philippines

Rescue workers searching for survivors in the passenger bus, which veered off a road and plunged into a ravine near Sablayan town, about 195km south of Manila, yesterday. The bus company involved in the crash has been suspended.
Rescue workers searching for survivors in the passenger bus, which veered off a road and plunged into a ravine near Sablayan town, about 195km south of Manila, yesterday. The bus company involved in the crash has been suspended.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MANILA • Nineteen people were killed and 21 others injured when a bus veered off the road and plunged down a ravine in the central Philippines, police said yesterday.

The bus was heading towards the capital Manila when it crashed through the railings of a bridge on Mindoro Island on Tuesday, according to regional police spokesman Imelda Tolentino.

She said: "The survivors said the driver lost control of the vehicle and that is why it crashed.

"Police are investigating why the driver lost control - whether there was mechanical trouble or the driver fell asleep."

The bus driver was among those who died, she added.

Police photographs showed rescue workers clambering down a cliff to reach the bus, which lay on its side among the trees, about 15m down from the road.

The accident occurred near Sablayan town, which is about 195km south of Manila.

Road accidents are common in the Philippines, where inadequately maintained buses and poorly trained drivers form the backbone of the country's land transport options.

In 2010, 41 people, including five foreigners, died when a crowded bus plunged into a deep ravine in the northern Philippines. Another 31 people died in a bus crash in the country's north in April last year, while 20 people were killed when two buses collided in the north in December.

Public transport regulators yesterday suspended the bus company involved in the Mindoro crash, and said they would be inspecting its facilities.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2018, with the headline '19 dead after bus plunges off cliff in Philippines'. Print Edition | Subscribe