MANILA, Jan. 3 -- At least 31 people were killed and 36 others injured when an overloaded passenger bus missed a bridge and fell into a ravine in the northern Philippines shortly before dawn Tuesday, police and radio reports said. The ill-fated Florida Bus Lines vehicle missed the Ipil bridge and fell into a deep ravine in Echague, a town 200 miles (300 km) north of Manila, the Manila Radio Station DZMM reported.
Initial police investigations show the bus was speeding towards Echague town Tuesday when the driver apparently fell asleep around 3 a. m. local time. 'We were approaching the bridge when our driver suddenly lost control of the wheel,' bus conductor Edwin Carreon said. 'I believe he fell asleep.' The bus left its terminal in Sampaloc, Manila at about 6 p.m. local time Monday with only 38 passengers. But Carreon said the driver picked up 32 more passengers along the way. Most of the victims were returning to their hometowns after spending the holidays in the capital. Police were sent to secure the area as Air Force personnel and rescue workers tried to retrieve more victims from the wreckage. The casualties were rushed to a nearby hospital.