23 passengers hurt as bus falls into cliff

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/05 October) – Twenty-three passengers, mostly ambulant vendors and farmers, were injured when the mini-bus carrying them fell into a cliff along the Arakan Valley Complex highway in President Roxas, North Cotabato, around 10:30 a.m. today.

Inset map courtesy of Wikipedia.Seventeen of the victims were rushed to nearby New Cebu District Hospital in Barangay New Cebu in President Roxas town, about four kilometers away from the crash site.

They were identified as: Luzviminda Sumugat, Dexter Van Gajaldo, Antonio Gajaldo, John Rey Palmera, Ireneo Carnaje, Alex Abunola, Rene Magdan, Sunnylou Purisima, Joseph Fuentes, Gilbert Yee, Sonia Parcon, Jason Celgas, Rosemarie Chiva, Ruth Matthias, Leonar Neri, Lucia Amlon, and Jocelyn Limbat.

Five other injured passengers were brought to the Kidapawan Medical Specialists Center, namely, Melrose Reyes, Paul Barrete, Elena Gersaba, Jimaima Gallardo, and Anita Canonigo

Bitoy Primitivo, another victim, was brought to the North Cotabato Provincial Hospital

Joel Pareja, one of the passengers that survived the fall, said the driver tried to negotiate a hilly portion of the road but the bus reportedly lost its brakes and plunged into a 30-foot cliff.

Pareja said the mini-bus was fully loaded.

Aside from heavy cargoes, the bus was carrying 30 passengers, most of them farmers and ambulant vendors from Kidapawan City.

“While we were on our way to Arakan town, the driver picked up passengers even if the bus was already fully loaded. One of the passengers even told the driver not to pick up any more passengers,” he said.

The driver voluntarily surrendered to the police in President Roxas, reports said.

Members of the Philippine Red Cross Kidapawan sub-chapter and Kidapawan City Emergency Response Unit helped rescue the passengers. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)