40 killed in Philippine ravine bus plunge

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A packed passenger bus negotiating a downhill curve plunged off a Philippine mountain road into a 100ft ravine today, killing 40 people in one of the country's worst recent accidents.

About eight other passengers, including a 10-year-old boy, were pulled alive from the twisted wreckage, said police chief Wilben Mayor of Benguet province, north of Manila.

Mr Mayor said most of the victims were crushed to death while others were hurled out as the bus tumbled down.

Rescue workers were trying to revive some of the people but it was unclear if they were successful. The victims' remains, including a toddler's, were put in body bags on the road.

The bus was carrying 47 people from the northern mountain city of Baguio when it crashed in Sablan township, about eight miles away. The driver survived with a broken leg.

Conductor John Patrick Flores said the brakes on the bus failed as the driver was negotiating a downhill curve.

He said the driver was aiming to hit a lamppost to stop the bus from falling but missed and it jumped over a foot-high road barrier.

"I jumped off the bus to the side of the road before the bus plunged into the ravine," Mr Flores said. He suffered only minor bruises.

He said he was the first person to reach the bus and carried the 10-year-old boy with a broken leg up the ravine. Later residents helped rescue other passengers, six of whom were brought to hospital in Baguio.

Mr Flores said the bus was not speeding as it had just dropped off a passenger and picked up another a short distance away from where the vehicle plunged.

Accidents in the area are common because of poorly maintained vehicles.

Last month 15 people died when their bus slammed into a concrete barrier in the central Philippines. A month earlier, a bus rented by Iranian medical students fell into a ravine near central Cebu city, killing 21 people.

Police said later that more bodies had been recovered from the crashed bus, raising the death toll to 40.

Ten people, including a 10-year-old boy, survived and nine were taken to hospital, said Mr Mayor.