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19 killed in Mindoro bus crash; driver error?

NINETEEN people died and 21 others were injured when a passenger bus lost control and plunged off a cliff in the central Philippines, police said Wednesday.

The bus, which was heading to the capital Manila, skidded off a mountain road on Mindoro island late Tuesday, said regional police spokeswoman Imelda Tolentino.

Rescue workers were pulling the dead and injured from the vehicle, which landed at the bottom of a wooded ravine, she added.

“Police are investigating why the driver lost control—whether there was mechanical trouble or the driver fell asleep,” Tolentino said.

Police photos showed rescuer workers clambering down the cliff to reach the bus, which lay on its side among trees and grass about 15 meters below the road.

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

Road accidents are common as poorly maintained buses and poorly trained drivers form the backbone of land transport options.

SEARCH FOR SURVIVORS. This undated handout from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office-Occidental Mindoro, released on Wednesday, shows rescuers using heavy equipment to search for survivors after a passenger bus plunged off a cliff in Sablayan town, where 19 people were killed and 21 others were injured. AFP

In 2010, 41 people died, including five foreigners, when a packed bus plunged into a deep ravine in the northern Philippines. Another 31 people perished in bus crash in the country’s north in April last year.

Public transport regulators said Wednesday they may suspend the franchise of the operator of the bus involved in the most recent disaster.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board said it would suspend the bus company that operated the Dimple Star bus that plunged into the ravine.

Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public services, said the Mindoro bus tragedy was a reminder of how dangerous public transportation can be.

Poe said there is a pending bill at the Senate calling for the creation of a National Transportation Safety Board that would be solely responsible for looking into recurring transportation-related accidents and determining their causes.

She said the board will cover land, sea, air, including railways.

“To use a driving term, we need a dashboard of solutions to stop this bloody mess on our streets,” she said.

She also said the government needs to see to it that the billions of pesos from car registration fees that are earmarked for road safety, such as railings and lights, end up in the streets and not in private pockets. With AFP

Topics: died , passenger bus , Philippines , Mindoro island , Imelda Tolentino , LTFRB
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