Authorities scoured a deep ravine in the central Philippines yesterday as the toll from a deadly bus crash involving a group of Iranian students and tourists rose to 21, police said.
The bus was carrying a group of Iranian medical and nursing students and their relatives when it careened off the cliff and into a ravine 9m deep in the central island of Cebu on Sunday, police said.
“The bus lost its brakes and fell into the ravine,” provincial police chief Senior Superintendent Erson Digal said.
“Philippine police and the army are still scouring the area. There might still be bodies there,” Digal said.
He said the group apparently was on its way for an outing at a popular beach resort when the accident occurred.
Only two Filipinos were aboard the bus, including the driver who was among the fatalities.
A 38-year-old Filipina nanny and an Iranian baby boy she was cradling were among about 30 survivors, the police chief said.
Initial reports had placed the death toll at 15 as of Sunday afternoon, and five other bodies were subsequently recovered.
Another victim died while being treated at a hospital, Digal said.
A number of the survivors remained in critical condition, he said.
It was not clear how many people were aboard at the time of the accident, but the bus, which could seat 70 people, was apparently full, Digal said citing results of an initial investigation from the field.
“The bus driver as well as the Iranian organizer of the trip were among the dead,” he said. “We are carrying out an investigation.”
The casualties were mostly Iranians studying as nurses or doctors at a Cebu university, officials said, correcting earlier reports that some of the dead were Pakistanis.