A bus plunged off a rain-soaked elevated highway in suburban Manila and fell on to a van passing below yesterday, killing at least 17 people and injuring 16 others, officials said.
TV footage showed bodies strewn around the bus wreckage with police officers nearby. The van was an unrecognisable pile of smashed white metal.
The bus veered off the Skyway, as the elevated road is called, and crashed on to the van nearly 10 metres below in suburban Paranaque city at dawn, police Superintendent Elizabeth Velasquez said.
It wasn't clear what caused the accident but the highway was wet from rain, said Ivy Vidal, a spokeswoman from Skyway Operations and Maintenance.
Irene Sisperes, a motorist who witnessed the accident, said she was driving with her daughter at 80 km/h when the bus overtook her car. She estimated the bus was travelling at between 100 km/h and 110 km/h.
She said it was still dark and it was raining when the accident happened. "After a few metres, I saw the bus fall," she told DZMM radio, adding there were no other cars nearby.
Sisperes said she saw the damaged railing along the highway and some debris and had reported the incident at the toll gate.
Angelo Dequina, an employee of a funeral parlour, said 17 bodies from the accident were brought to their mortuary from hospitals and from the crash site.
Calls to five hospitals where the victims were taken showed at least 16 people injured from the accident had been admitted.
Velasquez earlier said the van's driver was killed and the bus driver was in serious condition in a hospital. But Dr Carmencita Solidum, medical director of the Paranaque Doctors' Hospital, said the two drivers were among the 10 injured admitted to her hospital.
The bus driver was critically injured but the van driver had minor injuries, she added.
Ryan Bresa, a bus passenger, said it might have been travelling too fast and the driver tried to control the vehicle's swerving before it fell from the highway.
Winston Ginez, chairman of the government body controlling the bus lines, said all 78 buses belonging to the fleet of Don Mariano Transit had been ordered suspended for 30 days.
Two years ago a bus from another company fell from the Skyway near the same area, leaving three people dead and four others injured.
The Philippines is notorious for its poor traffic safety record, as well as for its serious traffic congestion in major cities.
In 2011, the Asian Development Bank said nearly 1,900 people had died in 85,000 road accidents in the Philippines.
Yesterday's crash caused traffic chaos in the sprawling city of 11.5 million people.
Additional reporting by Reuters