IPIL, Zamboanga Sibugay (MindaNews/21 Sept) – Three Boy Scouts and two others were killed while 16 more were injured in a traffic accident Wednesday afternoon in the municipality of Siay, this province.
Police and eyewitnesses said the incident, which took place around 2:50 p.m. in Sitio Gusawan, Barangay Monching of Siay, involved a near collision between a dump truck carrying Boy Scouts on their way to a jamboree in the capital town of Ipil and a bus of the Rural Transit Mindanao, Inc. (RTMI) bearing body number 9146.
The Boy Scouts, who were delegates of Olutanga town also in Zamboanga Sibugay, were reportedly aboard a dump truck owned by the municipal government of Mabuhay, a town adjacent to Olutanga town (both municipalities are situated in Olutanga Island).
Senior Supt. Ruben Cariaga, provincial police chief, confirmed that two died on the spot when the dump truck carrying the Boy Scout delegates swerved and lost control over a treacherous curve in sitio Gusawan as it tried to prevent collision with the bus.
But survivor Rey Romano, a pre-school teacher of Kahayagan Elementary School in Olutanga accompanying delegates, said he saw at least three persons who died on the spot. Romano himself sustained fractured left arm and head contusions.
Romano, who was interviewed at the Zamboanga Sibugay Provincial Hospital, said he was thrown out of their vehicle and landed on the roadside. “The next moment that I knew was that my left arm, head and back were in pain,” he recalled.
Aside from the three Boy Scouts, the other casualties were reportedly the driver of the dump truck and an escort of the school children. But MindaNews failed to get their names as of press time.
Charlito “Kaloy” Manlupig, chair of the Cagayan de Oro-based NGO Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. who passed by the site shortly after the accident as his group was travelling to Zamboanga City, said they saw injured motionless school children lying on the highway and under the bus but he could not say if they were still alive or not.
“In my conversation with the bus driver, he said the dump truck driver apparently lost control of the vehicle,” Manlupig said over mobile phone. There was no collision, he quoted the bus driver as saying, but the dump truck passengers, mostly Boy Scouts, were thrown off the vehicle and fell into the road, some of them hit by the bus.
“The dump truck overturned and stopped right in the middle of the highway while the bus, as it avoided the truck, ran into a shallow canal by the roadside,” Manlupig said.
A responding rescue team from the local police, together with some civilian volunteers, brought the victims to the Pathfinder Hospital in Kabasalan town, some 15 kilometers away. Other victims were brought to the provincial hospital.
Dr. Rolando Olmoguez, provincial hospital chief, said a total of 16 persons were injured, three of whom were evacuated to the Regional Hospital in Zamboanga City.
He said that the 10 injured confined at the hospital in Kabasalan are now in stable condition. The remaining three victims are undergoing treatment in the provincial hospital, 50 kilometers away..
The hospital chief assured “government doctors are on stand-by so that we can respond appropriately in situations like this.”
The vehicular accident happened on the eve of arrival of all delegates to the 7th Regional Jamboree of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP).
Camp Director Pedro B. Penados said “we are still waiting for the official report on the accident.”
“Accidents are part of the risks in attending any event such as this one and we are prepared to provide assistance to those affected because they are part in this undertaking,” Penados said. He added that except for the accident, “everything is in place for the jamboree.”
He said the official arrival of delegates is on Thursday (Sept. 22) but some are coming ahead because they are part of the advance party of their BSP councils.
Some 5,000 Boy Scouts from most of Mindanao, except the Caraga Region and most parts of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), are attending the jamboree on Sept. 23-26 where Vice President Jejomar Binay, the national BSP president, is expected to attend as the guest of honor. (With reports)