By ARIEL AVENDANO • JONAS REYES • MARTIN SADONGDONG
CONCEPCION, Tarlac – A passenger bus slammed into a six-wheel cargo truck loaded with acetylene and LPG tanks just before midnight Tuesday, setting off an explosion that killed three bus passengers and injuring 23 others.
The accident happened at around 11:30 p.m. near the Concepcion exit of the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).
Police said the bus, owned by Five Star Bus, hit the rear of the truck. The explosion that followed damaged both vehicles which ended up in the embankment.
In a press statement, Five Star Bus claimed that the truck had a flat tire and the explosion was caused by hundreds of acetylene tanks that fell from the truck and spilled onto the road.
“While evacuation procedures were being undertaken by the bus driver, witnesses said they heard a hiss and seconds later, the acetylene tanks exploded one by one. These blasts hit several of our passengers and our bus conductor,” said bus spokesperson Deanna Florendo.
The claim has yet to be verified by police investigators.
Meanwhile, Florendo said they have already gotten in touch with the families of the victims and attended to their needs.
The three bodies were brought to a funeral parlor in Tarlac City.
The injured victims were brought to nearby hospitals, according to Superintendent Augusto Pasamonte, Concepcion police chief.
Emmanuel Retardo, the 46-year-old truck driver from Plaridel, Bulacan, and helper Victor Ayen were rushed to the Dr. Eutiquio Atanacio Memorial Hospital along with bus passengers Tammy Tagana, 24; Arnolfo Quinto, 59; Alfie Fernandez, 29; Carolyn Fernandez, 24; Rose Ann Agbanlog, 26; Criselda Joy Pascua, 25; Richard Sabiron, 29; Beth Carbonel, 25; and Felisa Bagon, 24.
Rolando Cacach Untalan, the 50-year-old bus driver from Calasiao, Pangasinan, was brought to the Concepcion District Hospital along with passengers Veronico Policarpio, 48; Dionisio Tibonsay, 33; Shaian Amor Sotto, 34; Sharah Jane Esteban, 41; Mylene Martinez, 41; Jerome Ian Lee Balagtas, 19; Meriam Reyes, 25; a 17-year-old pregnant teenager and a 12-year-old boy.
Passengers Manny Agravante, 36, and Jhomar Samson, 24, were rushed to the Tarlac Provincial Hospital.