MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – At least 20 people were killed and 15 others were injured in an early morning road collision Christmas Day in Agoo, La Union.
Among the casualties are at least 3 minors, including a 5-month-old.
According to Agoo police chief Chief Inspector Roy Villanueva, a bus crashed with a jeepney along the national highway at around 3:30 am on Monday, December 25.
"'Yung pong fatalities natin ay nasa 20 na po, and then sa jeep po 'yun lahat ang occupants po noon," Villanueva told Rappler in a phone interview. (There are 20 fatalities now, and they're all from the jeep.)
The local police chief added that the jeepney was privately owned, while the bus was owned by operating company Partas.
The Partas bus was on its way to Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.
The jeepney, from Agoo, was on its way to our Lady of Manaoag.
Villanueva said their investigators are still probing the area of the incident and clarifying with survivors what happened.
Police said the19 were said to have died on the spot, and that the collision was so disproportionate, the engine of the jeep was yanked out.
So far, 12 of the casualties have been identified:
Almost exactly a year ago, also in Agoo, a Partas bus slammed a Dominion Bus, leaving two dead.
On December 22, 2016, at the national highway along Santa Fe, the Dominion bus had already gone on the shoulder to avoid the speeding Partas, but they still collided. The two dead and 18 other injured were from the Dominion bus, while 7 of the injured were inside Partas.
Nonetheless, the police official said, the highway has still not been declared an "accident-prone area."
In a statement, Senator Grace Poe expressed sadness over the La Union accident and sought an investigation into the incident. She said the accident serves as a reminder to travelers during the holidays to be extremely careful when driving to avoid accidents like that.
Poe also said that now more than ever there is a need for a National Transportation Safety Board that will investigate and monitor accidents to avoid errors and inadequacies that result in loss of lives. – Rappler.com