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Hamtic, Antique (Google Maps)

Bus crash kills 17 people in Antique

by Agence France Presse

SEVENTEEN people died and 11 were injured when a passenger bus careered off a road on a “killer curve” and plunged down a mountain in Antique, officials said Wednesday.

The bus was travelling in Hamtic municipality in Antique when the crash happened Tuesday afternoon, provincial disaster agency head Roderick Train told AFP.

Seven people were in critical condition in the hospital and four others were stable, Train said, describing the section of road as “accident prone”.

One Kenyan national was among those killed, and a second Kenyan was among those critically injured.

Governor Rhodora Cadiao earlier told radio station DZRH there were four Kenyans on board the bus that was carrying mostly residents of Antique.

Local police later clarified that there were only two. Another body was still being identified.

“I call that place ‘killer curve’… it was already the second Ceres bus that fell off there,” said Cadiao, referring to the bus company.

“With the many deaths, that road must be abandoned… and make another road to make that area safe.”

The heavily forested ravine was around 30 metres (100 feet) deep, Cadiao said.

Train said the bus “fell from a high place,” resulting in many casualties.

“Based on the witnesses, it was a mechanical failure. The driver lost control, a possible brake failure,” Train said.

Suspended

Vallacar Transit Inc., which owns the ill-fated bus, expressed its apologies to the victims and said it would cooperate with any investigation by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board into the incident.

The bus company also suspended all operations of the 12 remaining units under the franchise pending an investigation.

VTI said it would also provide financial assistance to the passengers and their families, as well as shoulder the medical and burial expenses.

”Rest assured that we are doing everything that we can to make sure that it is being handled properly and carefully,” it said.

“The management guarantees the riding public that we are taking all the appropriate steps to ensure that our buses are road-worthy and well-maintained.”

Cadiao visited the hospital, where survivors were being treated for their injuries. She promised government assistance for the medical and funeral expenses of the victims.

Train said the search and rescue operation had finished and authorities would now focus on retrieving the bus.

“We searched for the bodies until this morning,” Train said. “It was tiring to go up and down.”

Deadly road accidents are common in the Southeast Asian nation, where drivers frequently flout the rules and vehicles are often poorly maintained or overloaded.

with a report from Carl Santos

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