CEBU -- A Ceres Liner bus fell on its side and crashed into a wall in Barangay Dawis Norte, Carmen, Cebu, Sunday afternoon, wounding nearly 40 passengers, including 10 minors.
Around five hours before that, a construction crane fell on its side on a bridge in Carcar City, stalling traffic for at least three hours.
The accidents occurred even as weather bureau officials advised motorists to take precautions because the rains are expected to make roads slippery in the coming months.
Chief Inspector Alvin Balio, Carmen Police Station chief, said the accident in the northern town took place past 1 p.m. when Ronald Lato, who was driving the bus (CCE-679), lost control of it because the roads were slippery.
The survivors, including a six-month-old baby, suffered mild to severe injuries and fractures in different parts of their bodies, he said.
They were rushed to the Cebu Provincial Hospital in Danao City, but some 25 of them who were severely wounded were brought to Cebu City for further medical attention.
The bus, which was carrying 39 people, including the driver and conductor, came from Cebu City. It was heading to Daanbantayan town for its first trip.
Lato, 35, narrated he was going 50 kilometers per hour and tailing a tricycle, which suddenly pulled over in Barangay Dawis Norte. He said he slowed down and overtook the tricycle, but when he applied the brakes, he lost control of the bus, which fell.
Lato, of Barangay Poblacion, Daanbantayan, said the asphalted road was slippery after a rain. The bus had been functioning well and didn’t encounter any mechanical problem, he said.
“Ako gyud gipaningkamotan nga dili mi matumba. Wala gyud nako to tuyoa. Disgrasya gyud (I tried my best to keep the bus from falling over. I didn’t mean for this to happen. It was an accident),” he said.
Nearby residents immediately came to help and pulled out the passengers. Rescuers from Danao and Carmen came later.
The accident, Balio said, caused moderate traffic in the area. “Amo dayon gipadali ug pakuha kay para dili mobara sa traffic (We wanted the bus removed right away to keep it from blocking the traffic),” he said. They got the bus back up before 3 p.m.
About five hours before the Carmen accident took place, a crane fell on the bridge that links Barangays Valladolid and Perrelos in Carcar City around 8 a.m.
Traffic was stalled for three hours on the national highway.
The crane operator was reportedly trying to pull and lift part of the old bridge, not knowing that parts of the steel bars were still attached to the old concrete, said Barangay Councilor Raymond Campaña of Perrelos.
The equipment fell on its side while operator Joseph Alemania, who is in his late 40s, tried controlling it. The crane belongs to WT Construction, which is working on a bridge-widening project in the southern city.
A fellow worker, who asked not to be named, said that Alemania was not hurt and jumped out of the crane before it fell.
Traffic enforcers, members of the Carcar Communicators Inc., barangay tanods and the Carcar City Police rushed to the site and helped manage the flow of vehicles.
Traffic became manageable on the bridge only past 3 p.m. when vehicles on both sides of the road were allowed to pass gradually, taking turns using one lane.
Buses, cars, passenger jeepneys and large trucks had to wait for their turn to pass the bridge.
The queue reached as far as a kilometer from the site of the accident to Awayan in Poblacion 3 in the south, and as far as the barangay hall in Perrelos in the north.
Some private vehicles were asked to take a detour and pass through the smaller roads of the city to reach their destination.
Sun.Star Cebu visited the compound of WT Construction in Poblacion 3 to get the comments of both the contractor’s head engineer and the administrative officer, but they refused to issue a statement, saying they were not authorized to do so.
In a separate interview, SPO1 Eduardo Bagol said it may take time to restore the crane to its position, as the contractor will need another heavy equipment to do the work.
No one was injured in the Carcar accident.
It was a different story in the Carmen accident’s case, where 25 of the injured passengers were brought to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center; 10 to the Danao City District Hospital; three to the Cebu Doctors’ Hospital; and one to the Perpetual Succour Hospital.
One was said to be in critical condition last night.
Marc John Invento, 11, suffered head injuries and underwent a CT scan Sunday. Attending physicians said he may also undergo a blood transfusion and surgery.
Passenger Emmanuel Briones, 32, told Sun.Star Cebu that when they reached Barangay Dawis in Carmen, he heard something snap in the engine. He was seated next to the driver.
“Murag natangtang ang ligid (The tire may have been dislodged),” said Briones. He said he saw the driver having difficulty maneuvering the vehicle, until he lost control of it.
“Naningkamot gyud siya na macontrol, pero natumba ang bus (He tried hard to control the vehicle but it just fell on its side),” he said.
Briones suffered bruises on his arms and face.
Vincent Pestano, 25, who was sitting at the rear portion of the bus, also said that the driver drove fast.
“Paspas man ang dagan hangtod nakatulog ko (We were going fast. At one point, I fell asleep),” he said in an interview at the VSMMC. He narrated that he was awakened by the passengers’ wailing when the vehicle started to swerve.
Pestano said the road was slippery because it rained at that time.
Ceres to help
Cebu Province’s Integrated Provincial Health Office Assistant Head Manuel Porog told Sun.Star Cebu that the Ceres Bus Liner management promised to shoulder the medical expenses of the passengers.
“They (Ceres management) assured to shoulder all expenses. They are also very cooperative,” Porog said.
The police identified those injured as Nerissa Invento, 42, of Borbon; Mark John Invento, 12, of Borbon; Mebel Invento, 14, of Borbon; Merycelle Dedicatoria, 22, of Borbon; Emmanuelle Briones, 36, of Talisay City; Velanie Balagosa, 48, of Medellin; Vicente Carl Bisok, 20, of Liloan; Florencia Condino, 59, of Medellin; Chris Ian Abao, 6, of Medellin; Marilyn Apas, 48, of Medellin; Girlie Sanchez, 34, of Medellin; John Sanchez, 9, of Medellin; Vincent Pestaño, 35, of Bogo City; Ella Delacalsada, 36, of Talisay City; and Evelyn Magale, 52, of Mandaue City.
The other victims were Ricardo Sabital, 32, of Mandaue City; Michael Mepeisa, 23, of Medellin; Robin Molihon, 23, of Borbon; Marlon Adolfo, 36, of Mandaue City; Gerome Sanchez, 34, of Medellin; Elmer Son, 34, of Medellin; Alfredo Borgan, 4, of Borbon; Almera Borgas, 7, of Borbon; Marites Borgas, 37, of Borbon; Alfredo Borgas, 46, of Borbon; Celerina Maramata, 9, of Mandaue City; Raymond Rondina, 28, of Medellin; Michael Descarten, 33, of Daanbantayan; Saniel Descarten, 4, of Daanbantayan and Eunice Sanchez, 5, of Medellin.
The youngest passenger was Christian Rondina, a six-month-old baby boy, of Medellin.
PO2 Everett Capuyan, traffic investigator of Carmen Police Station, said these were the only names they got from the hospital.
Weather officials advised motorists to prepare for slippery roads.
But weather specialist Joey Figuracion of Pagasa Mactan, Cebu Station said that rains, though more frequent starting this month, will affect only certain parts of Cebu, except when there are weather disturbances.
Pagasa or the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration declared the start of the rainy season last June 10.
“What we are experiencing these days are localized thunderstorms that bring about isolated rains,” Figuracion told Sun.Star Cebu.
On Sunday, thunderstorms affected the northern part of Cebu while sunny weather prevailed over Metro Cebu and the southern part of the province.
Figuracion said rains brought about by thunderstorms last only for one to two hours.
Widespread rains that last for days, he pointed out, are those brought about by weather disturbances like low-pressure areas or typhoons. (Sun.Star Cebu)