Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Bus carrying Hanjin workers falls in Subic ravine; 19 hurt

A bus transporting employees of Hanjin Heavy Industries, Inc. fell into a ravine in Subic, Zambales Tuesday morning, the spokesperson of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) said. Officials said 19 workers were injured in the accident.

In an interview on dzBB radio, Armi Llamas said the accident occurred at Brgy. Cawag in Zambales located outside the Hanjin facility. The official said the bus involved in the accident - with body number WPH-44 - usually ferries workers on the way to work.

Llamas said they are still verifying the number of the passengers and whether there were fatalities in the incident. Those injured in the accident were brought to the San Marcelino District Hospital, she said.

"May dumating po na report, before 8 (a.m.) na mayroong nahulog na bus. Ang pangalan na WPH. Ito ang ginagamit ng workers papasok ng Hanjin. (Nahulog) sa Cawag, Zambales. Papunta po ng Hanjin, papasok po ito ng trabaho," Llamas said.

For her part, San Marcelino District Hospital administrative officer Ping Osmeña in an interview on dzBB radio said 18 were brought to their hospital while another was brought to the James Gordon Hospital in Olongapo City.

Osmeña said that those who were brought to their hospital mostly sustained bruises.

In a telephone interview with GMANews.TV, Subic police chief Senior Inspector Nelson Dela Cruz identified the victims as:

1. Joan Guinto,
2. Nilmer Fontilla,
3. Mark Dolitas,
4. Leonardo Onpad,
5. Erwin Tolentino,
6. Michael Javier,
7. Arnel Fontilla,
8. Lyn Obago ,
9. Joey Angeles,
10. Erwin Felisminia,
11. Darwin Abisia,
12. Denver Sabado,
13. Mulawin Lubang,
14. Antonio Balolot,
15. Michael Jasmin,
16. Elmer Navalta,
17. Zaldy Abrego,
18. Jaime Legaspina, and
19. GR Martinez.

Dela Cruz said Guinto and Fontanilla remain in critical condition at the San Marcelino District Hospital. He said the two sustained severe head injuries. The official also said they are still identifying who among the 19 passengers was sent to the James Gordon Hospital in Olongapo City.

Dela Cruz said that officials from Hanjin and WPH bus service have visited victims at the San Marcelino Hospital.

Citing initial investigation, Dela Cruz said the bus - which has a seating capacity of 50 - was racing with two other buses shortly before it fell into a 50-meter deep ravine. He added that the driver escaped after the incident.

Dela Cruz said the police have formed a task force to look into the incident and to track down the driver.

In a separate interview on GMA News' Flash Report, Dela Cruz said they are mulling to file multiple reckless imprudence charges against the Wisdom, Prosperity, and Humanity (WPH) bus, owned by a certain Jane Buenaventura.

The incident took place on the day the Senate was to investigate deaths of workers of Korean firm Hanjin Heavy Industries' shipyard in Subic.

On Tuesday, the Senate Labor Committee under Senate President Pro Tempore Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada was to hold the investigation sought by Sen. Pilar Juliana Cayetano.

Cayetano said the death toll has reportedly reached 19 based on the Korean firm's official records since 2006.

Except for the latest casualty, a Korean national who worked as a foreman and died last Jan. 25, all the fatalities from vehicular and work-related accidents at the shipyard were Filipino laborers, the latest of which was Raldon Del Rosario, who died last Jan. 23.

Last December, Cayetano called the chamber's attention following the deaths of two Filipino workers within a week's span in November. Philip Albino Mendoza and Jose Vener Gil, were the 16th and 17th casualties at the shipyard, respectively.

Cayetano also noted that an unofficial account by a labor-support group in Subic had placed a bigger death toll at 24, including stay-in workers who reportedly died from malaria.

She also denounced last Jan. 21 what she called the interference of South Korean Ambassador Joong-Kyung on the authority of the Senate to conduct legislative inquiries.- SOPHIA DEDACE, GMANews.TV

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