MANILA, Philippines — At least six people, including a priest, were killed in a head-on collision between a packed passenger bus and a utility vehicle along the North Luzon Expressway in Pampanga on Saturday.
Police said fifty-six others were injured, many of them in critical condition.
Sr. Supt. Fernando Villanueva, regional officer of the police Highway Patrol Group 3, said the incident involved a Fermina Express bus with body number 97824 and plate number NYN-688 and a Toyota Revo with plate number XHE-829.
“Umoovertake itong bus at kinuha ang linya ng Revo (The bus was overtaking another vehicle and went into the Revo’s lane),” Villanueva said in an interview on dzBB radio.
Preliminary investigation showed the bus was heading north for Pangasinan while the Revo was heading south to Manila when they collided.
The incident occurred at about 1 p.m. at the portion of the NLEX near Sta. Ines village in Mabalacat town in Pampanga.
Senior Supt Pete Singian, Pampanga provincial director, said four of the fatalities were killed on the spot, including the Revo’s two riders and three of the bus passengers.
A fourth bus passenger died later in hospital of severe injuries, he said also over dzBB radio.
Police identified three of the fatalities as Fr. Domingo Moraleda of Claret School in Quezon City, Revo driver as Ruth Dianne Ferrer of Diliman, Quezon City; and Aurelia Montera of undertermined address.
Ferrer’s dead companion was described as a foreigner but the identity has yet to be established.
Superintentent Singian earlier told dzBB that bus driver Bernardo V. Santos, of Mangaldan, Pangasinan, was among those killed on the spot but other police officials assigned to investigate said the driver was still fighting for his life in hospital.
Singian said one of the passengers earlier reported to be a child turned out to be a “small woman.”
“There was no child among the fatalities,” he said.
Police said most of the passengers were on their way home or the All Saints and All Souls Day holidays. Province-bound buses from Manila were packed on Friday as people rushed to their rural homes to visit their loved ones in cemeteries.
Superintendent Villanueva said the impact of the collision was apparently so violent. “Grabe, naghiwalay ang katawan (It was gruesome. Some of the fatalities were dismembered),” he said.
Reporter Benjie Liwanag, who was reporting at the accident site, said the Revo was wrecked beyond recognition. “Warak ‘yung Revo, pati yung makina tumalsik (The Revo is a total wreck. Its engine was thrown into a distance),” he said.
He said the front portion of the bus was crumpled and anyone seating in the front seats could not have survived.
“Nagkalat ang mga bag, pagkain, sinelas, kuwarta at puro duguan ang mga upuan na nahiwalay sa bus (Bags, food, slippers and money are all around the wreck and blood-soaked seats have been separated from the vehicle),” he reported.
“Even the road shoulder has been destroyed,” Liwanag said, explaining that the two vehicles were thrown off the road upon impact. – GMANews.TV