TWENTY-EIGHT people were killed and dozens more were injured in two separate road accidents in La Union and Cotabato provinces, adding to the grim bodycount from disasters during the Christmas holidays.
Along the highway in Agoo, La Union, a fully loaded passenger jeepney taking a group of churchgoers to a dawn service crashed head-on into a passenger bus at 3:30 a.m., killing 20 on board, including six children, police said.
Nine other passengers in the jeepney were injured, as were 17 traveling in the bus, an updated tally released by regional police said.
Most of those killed were members of the same extended family.
“They [the family] were trying to catch a mass in Manaoag,” Agoo police officer Vanessa Abubo said, referring to the centuries-old Our Lady of Manaoag church, a popular pilgrimage site that features an icon of the Virgin Mary, which the faithful say performs miracles.
Agoo police chief Roy Villanueva told radio dzMM by telephone that the smaller vehicle had left its lane to overtake a third vehicle.
Authorities are investigating whether the driver, who Abubo said was among those killed, had fallen asleep or was under the influence, Villanueva added.
The pilgrims had come from the town of Bauang, an hour’s drive from Manaoag, police said.
Passengers who suffered critical injuries were taken to La Union Medical Center in Agoo, but died upon arrival. One died while being treated at a hospital in San Fernando City in La Union.
Among those killed were five members of the Cabuenas family—the couple Florence and Nelson and their three siblings Joy, Ivy, and Ivan, all minors; four members of the Ramirez clan—Cecil Antolin, Jeraldin Cabradilla, Claudine Cabradilla and Vergie Antolin.
The other fatalities were three members of the Cabagbay family: Kennedy, 6-month-old Kyle, and Vicky; as well as Mark Jerson Cabero, the driver Rolando Perez, Anna Karina Ramiscal, a minor, Manuelito Lomboy Jr., and Adila Antolin.
Initial reports said that on the way to Manaoag, the jeepney driver had reportedly overtaken a bus on a winding road where overtaking is strictly prohibiteds. After passing the said bus, the jeepney went into the opposite lane hitting an incoming Partas bus.
In Cotabato, a passenger jeepney plunged into a deep ravine killing eight occupants in President Roxas, town Monday morning. The jeepney was traversing a winding road when it suddenly lost its brakes and fell into a 60-foot ravine.
Over the holiday season, more than 200 people died in flash floods and landslides caused by Tropical Storm “Vinta” while 37 people died in a mall fire in Davao City.