18 dead as bus falls from Skyway

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Monday, December 16, 2013

MANILA (Updated 6:26 p.m.) -- Police investigators have corrected earlier reports and now say only 18 people were killed when a passenger bus plunged from an elevated highway and fell onto a van passing below on Monday morning.

Initial report from the Philippine National Police (PNP) said 22 people were killed and dozens others were injured, including the driver of the Pacita-bound Don Mariano Transit with plate number UVC-916.

Senior Police Officer 2 Isidra Dumlao of the PNP' Highway Patrol Group said 18 people were killed and at least 16 others were injured when the bus driver lost control of the vehicle while plying from the elevated portion of the expressway around 5:15 a.m., causing the bus to fall toward a section of the West Service Road of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) along Barangay Marcelo Green in Bicutan, Taguig City.

Bus falls in Skyway
Bodies of passengers are covered in newspapers as they are laid down on the road after a passenger bus plunged from an elevated highway known as the Skyway Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, in suburban Paranaque southeast of Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

She said that at least eight people were dead on the spot as several amputated body parts were seen scattered all over the vicinity of the tragic accident. Several victims died before reaching the hospital.

Dumlao said four fatalities were identified through their identification card found in their belongings. These were Marie Ann Superio, Roger Orquejo, Arnold Jimenos and Roberto Bautista.

The bodies of the 17 fatalities were brought to the Amigo Funeral Homes in Lower Bicutan in Taguig City but most of them were later transferred by their relatives to the Veronica Funeral Homes in Pasay City.

Bus driver Carmelo Catlatcat was among the 16 survivors who were rushed in various nearby hospitals in Taguig and Paranaque. Catlatcat is reportedly in critical condition after suffering severe head injuries.

Dumlao said the bus driver is facing possible charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and damage to property.

Ten of the injured were rushed to the Paranaque City Doctors Hospital, including Catcat.

Doctor Carmencita Solidum, the attending physician of the hospital, noted that other injured patients currently being treated in the emergency room are Pepe Padilla of Antipolo City; Benjie Albunag of Novaliches; Rebecca Tolentino of San Mateo, Rizal; Ofelia Esmec of Barangay Batasan in Quezon City; Fernando Talagaro of Novaliches; and certain Rolando Valero.

Meanwhile, four persons were brought to the Medical Center of Parañaque, wherein a security guard identified as Rolly Alayon Borris was declared dead on arrival while three others, identified Lito Teodorico, Ryan Brecia and Lexter Leona, are being treated for injuries they have sustained after the incident.

Also, a certain Lolita Valte was brought to the Intensive Care Unit of the South Super Highway Hospital.

The passenger bus was reportedly a kilometer away from the Skyway’s Dr. A. Santos Exit when it veered off the highway and crashed below into a van with plate number ULX-874 passing along the West Service Road of Slex.

Metro Manila Skyway communications officer Ivy Vidal said that the wet roads may have “caused the bus to ram the Skyway railings and plunged into the road below.”

She noted that the Skyway facilities followed the international safety standards of the durability of its safety railings and can only be destroyed by a massive amount of force or impact.

The Skyway management has also released a nine seconds video footage from the expressway's closed-circuit television camera, which showed the Don Mariano Transit bus speeding towards the safety railings and then fell off from the elevated part of the highway.

Meanwhile, Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chairman Winston Ginez said that the agency will issue preventive suspension on the remaining units in the fleet of the bus company.

A total of 78 buses of Don Mariano Transit are currently running within Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Irene Sisperes, a motorist who witnessed the accident, said she was driving with her daughter at 80 kilometers per hour (kph) when the bus overtook her car. She estimated that the bus was traveling at between 100 and 110 kph.

Sisperes said it was still dark and it was raining when the accident happened.

"After a few meters, I saw the bus fell and I shouted, 'The bus fell, the bus fell'," she told dzMM radio, adding that there were no other cars nearby.

She said she saw the damaged railing of the highway and some debris and reported the incident at the toll gate. (John Carlo Cahinhinan/with reports from AP/Sunnex)

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