MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A passenger bus careened off a winding, dirt road and fell into a ravine south of the Philippine capital, killing 19 people and injuring 17 others, police said Wednesday.
The crash occurred Tuesday night in Sablayan town in Occidental Mindoro province as the bus was heading on a downhill stretch of a road that had been under repair. The bus struck a bridge railing before falling into the 15- to 20-foot-deep ravine.
A mechanical problem may have caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle, police investigator Alexis Go told The Associated Press.
Police officer Ian Villanosa said the bus driver was killed and that children were among the injured.
Highway fatalities are alarmingly high in the Philippines due to poor traffic law enforcement, the dilapidated conditions of vehicles, and a lack of safety features like signs and railings, especially in far-flung provinces.
A senator who advocates for traffic safety shared her sympathies to the families of the victims while also expressing rage that such accidents are preventable.
Sen. Grace Poe called for support of a Senate bill that would create a National Transportation Safety Board and other steps such as inspections of public transportation vehicles and strict drivers’ licensing.
She said the crash was a reminder of how dangerous public transportation is in the Philippines. “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,” her statement said.