July 19, 2018, 3:46 am
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19 dead, 21 injured in Mindoro bus crash

NINETEEN were killed and 21 injured when a passenger bus plunged into a 20-meter deep ravine in Sitio Yapang, Barangay Batong Buhay, Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro on Tuesday night.

Senior Supt. Romie Estepa, Occidental Mindoro provincial police director, said the ill-fated Dimple Star bus (TYU-708) driven by Arno Panganiban came from San Jose town and was headed for Manila when the accident happened at around 9 p.m.

Initial investigation showed Panganiban lost control as the bus was negotiating a downward portion of the National Highway near Patrick Bridge. The bus plunged straight down the ravine as the bridge’s railings were not strong enough to prevent it from falling.

The bridge is between the boundary of Barangays Batongbuhay and San Agustin, according to the Sablayan Disaster Operation Center.

Various government agencies, including the PNP, Philippine Army, Bureau of Fire Protection and local disaster risk reduction management offices helped recover the casualties.

Estepa said Panganiban and Erwin Ebeunga, 40, the bus conductor, were among the 19 fatalities. The identities of the rest of the fatalities were not available as off press time.

Six of the injured were rushed to the San Sebastian District Hospital, while 15 were brought to the Mamburao Provincial Hospital.

Occidental Mindoro Provincial Administrator Mariano Montales said the local government will shoulder the victims’ hospital expenses. The Sablayan Disaster Operation Center advised relatives to help identify the victims.

Land Transportation and Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) board member Aileen Lizada said the Passenger Accident Management and Insurance agency will give P200,000 each to the families of the victims as the insurance coverage. Financial assistance will also be given to the injured.

The LTFRB issued a 30-day preventive suspension order on 10 units of Dimple Star Transport after the crash.

Lizada said they visited the Dimple Star terminal in Cubao, Quezon City yesterday morning to talk to its management and ended up halting the trip of two buses with nearly worn out tires.

In a three-page order, the LTFRB said the operator of the bus firm, Hilbert Napat, must surrender the plates of the suspended units to the agency’s legal division on Friday, March 23. Hipat was also asked to explain in writing “within 72 hours” why his franchise should not be “suspended, cancelled, or revoked.”

Within a month, the agency said the bus company must also bring the 10 units to the Motor Vehicle Inspection Service of the Land Transportation Office for inspection and determination of their roadworthiness.

The drivers and conductors of the units must also undergo drug testing and attend a road safety seminar conducted by the LTFRB or authorized training centers. – With Angela Lopez de Leon
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