[Photo: Rescuers retrieve the bodies of victims shortly after the accident. Photo By Belly M. Otordoz]
By BELLY M. OTORDOZ
The Superlines bus (body number 441) driven by Albert Talento Nava veered to the opposite lane and rammed into a truck. The truck then smashed into another truck, which bumped an Isarog Bus, (TYX 985), a DLTB bus (UYA 669), another trailer truck and a van.
A jeepney was also hit but its passengers sustained only minor injuries.
The pile-up occurred at 1 a.m. in the Diversion Road of the Maharlika Highway in Brgy. Sta. Catalina.
The 48-year-old Nava said he lost control of the wheel. He was arrested by police. Maharlika has earned notoriety as a “killer” highway because of the fatal accidents there.
Last May 12, nine persons were killed when a Bicol-bound bus collided with a tricycle on the highway. Three of those killed were children.
On August 22, a man was killed by a bus while crossing the highway, while on Sept. 27, a person also died while three others were seriously injured when a truck lost its brakes and rammed several vehicles.
C/Insp. Jomar Yupio, Atimonan police chief, said most of the fatalities were passengers of the bus, which was carrying 49 people.
“Some of the victims were trapped inside and under the wrecked buses and trucks, and 19 of them died on the spot,” Yupio said.
Rescuers found a headless body of a woman.
The injured were brought to a nearby hospital but those in critical condition were brought to Lucena hospital, he said.
One of the victims died in a hospital.
Initial reports identified 12 of the fatalities as Camacho Nexter, Maria Teresa Diesmo, Perfecto Zaño Diesmo, Henry Malaluan, Ronnie Villeja, Noe Nuñez, Danilo Espencilla, Michael Villamor, Ibn Rajick, Muksan Y Seno, Jodelyn Consuleo, and Rene Jimenez.
Treated at the Doña Marta Memorial District Hospital were Jonnel Paunil, Gracielle Pauli, Realyn Elot, Rosalia Laloma, Alena Maria Gaño, Elena, Carl Francis Bacarro, Michael Angelo Gaño, Nestor Chavez, Jr., Charlimagne Ureña, Richelyn Albaracin, Shane Anne Pestejo, Maria Clara Rudino, Apolinario Judavar and an unidentified baby.