A passenger bus smashed into a bridge before plunging into a ravine in the central Philippines, killing at least 19 passengers and injuring 21 others, police said Wednesday.
The bus was traveling near the mountainous town of San Agustin in central Occidental Mindoro province Tuesday night when it veered off the highway and struck the railing of a bridge before hurtling down the 15-foot ravine, according to Senior Superintendent Romie Estepa, the provincial police chief.
The bus apparently was on its way to the capital Manila, he said.
“We are investigating the incident to determine whether there was mechanical trouble or if the driver fell asleep minutes before the accident,” Estepa told a local radio station.
Sen. Grace Poe, chairwoman of the Senate committee on public services, said she was “enraged with the loss of lives due to events that could have been prevented.”
“Sadly, the list of tragic road accidents and their casualties continue to increase because vehicles that are not roadworthy or even those we label as rolling coffins are still allowed to ply the roads with near impunity,” she said in statement.
“There is a general pattern to be perceived in each of the accidents, and unless we fail to piece them together, they will occur,” she said.
About 34 Filipinos die every day in vehicle crashes, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
In February 2017, a tourist bus carrying 50 passengers, mostly students from Bestlink College of the Philippines in Manila, crashed into an electric pole, killing 15 and leaving several others wounded.
In December 2013, at least 22 people died and 16 others were injured when a passenger bus fell off an elevated highway in Manila.
The worst road accident in the Philippines, where dilapidated buses are commonly used in far-flung provinces, occurred on Jan. 6, 1967, in the town of Ternate just south of Manila when two buses collided, leaving 115 people dead.