17 killed in Philippines bus plunge
At least 17 people were killed and 16 others injured when a passenger bus plunged off a wet, elevated highway in suburban Manila and fell on to a van passing below, officials in the Philippines said today.
The reports from police, hospital and mortuary staff revised higher tolls.
TV footage showed a number of bodies strewn around the bus wreckage with police officers nearby. The van was an unrecognisable pile of twisted white metal.
The bus veered off the Skyway, as the elevated road is called, and crashed on to the van 32ft (9.6m) below in suburban Paranaque city at dawn, said police Superintendent Elizabeth Velasquez.
The cause of the accident was not immediately clear but the road was wet from rain, said Ivy Vidal, a spokeswoman from Skyway Operations and Maintenance Corp.
Irene Sisperes, a motorist who witnessed the accident, said she was driving with her daughter at 50mph (80kph) when the bus overtook her car. She estimated that the bus was travelling at 62mph-68mph (100kph-110kph).
She said it was still dark and it was raining when the accident happened.
"After a few meters, I saw the bus fall and I shouted 'The bus fell, the bus fell'," she told DZMM radio, adding that there were no other cars nearby.
Ms Sisperes said she saw the damaged railing of the highway and some debris and reported the incident at the toll gate.
Supt Velasquez earlier reported that 21 people had been killed and 20 others injured but later said there appeared to have been double counting amid the confusion. She said she was verifying reports that 17 died and several others were injured.
Angelo Dequina, an employee of a funeral parlour, said 17 bodies from the accident had been taken to their mortuary from hospitals and from the crash site.
At least 16 people injured in the accident were admitted to five hospitals.
Supt Velasquez earlier said the van's driver was killed and the bus driver was in a serious condition in hospital. But Dr Carmencita Solidum, medical director of the Paranaque Doctors' Hospital, said the two drivers were among the 10 injured who were at her hospital.
The bus driver was critically injured but the van driver had only minor injuries, she added.
Ryan Bresa, a passenger who survived, said the bus may have been travelling too fast and the driver to tried control the vehicle's swerving before it plunged off the carriageway.
Winston Ginez, chairman of the government's Land Transportation, Franchising and Regulatory Board, said all the 78 buses of Don Mariano Transit Corp have been taken out of service for 30 days.
Two years ago a bus from another company also fell from the Skyway near the same area, leaving three people dead and four others injured.