‘KILLER CURVE’ CLAIMS 17 SOULS: Antique-bound bus falls off 30-meter-deep cliff

Rescue volunteers try to reach the ill-fated bus in Hamtic, Antique. (USAR-CDRRMO photo)

By Rjay Castor and Jennifer Rendon

What officials described as a “killer curve” in Antique claimed 17 lives after a Ceres bus veered off a 30-meter-deep cliff in Hamtic town on Tuesday afternoon, December 5.

A Kenyan missionary. Bus company employees. A faculty member and a student from the same university. A one-year-old child.

They are just some of the fatalities, 16 of whom were declared dead on the spot, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) of Antique said in a press conference on Wednesday.

The incident injured 11 other passengers. PDRRMO head Broderick Train said four victims are now in stable condition at the Angel Salazar Memorial General Hospital in San Jose de Buenavista.

Meanwhile, seven critically injured victims were transported to the Angel Salazar Hospital and Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City.

A 17-year-old girl from San Joaquin, Iloilo was injured as she was sideswiped while walking in the accident scene.

The PDRRMO said that one of the critically wounded victims expired at 3:00 a.m., bringing the death toll to 17.

According to authorities, the last person to be retrieved in the area was the inspector of the Ceres bus at around 2:30 a.m.

All bodies were already retrieved in the area at around 3:00 a.m., but operations continued since the bus was yet to be lifted from the ravine.

The PDRRMO said the low to zero communication signals in the area had hampered the flow of information, which bloated the report of the initial number of victims to more than 50.

“There is no signal so there is a gap in communication […] You cannot access communication there,” said Train.

The PDRRMO chief said they already have the names of the victims, but their addresses are yet to be identified.

“There are belongings of the victims at the scene. I think this will be also used to determine the identities of these persons and their addresses,” he added.

Governor Rhodora J. Cadiao said the majority of the casualties were locals, and two were Kenyan missionaries.

One fatality currently in the morgue is an unidentified male aged approximately 29 to 35 years old, standing around 5’8″ tall. Salient body identifications of the man include a honeycomb-designed tattoo on the right arm and additional tattoos on his right leg and stomach.

“The investigation has yet to be official and it has to be verified true and correct. With respect to the families of the victims, we cannot divulge the exact names of the victims, especially those who expired during the tragic incident,” the governor added.


The bus reportedly fell off the ravine of 60-70 feet at around 4:30 p.m., while navigating a curve between the boundary of Barangay Fabrica and Igbucagay.

The PDRRMO chief alleged that a “mechanical defect” in the bus caused it to plunge off the cliff.

The bus was carrying 27 passengers and was en route to Culasi, Antique from Iloilo.

“If you remember, that area in Igbucagay is dubbed as the ‘killer curve’ that was reported already to the Office of the Civil Defense years ago when the first Ceres bus also met [with] an accident there,” said Cadiao.

On April 5, 2019, three passengers died while seven others were injured after a Ceres bus also fell into a ravine in Barangay Igbucagay on April 5, 2019.

Cadiao, who was then the chairperson of the Regional Development Council, said she called the attention of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to rectify the engineering design of the road in the area.

“I think the design is [engineeringly] faulty and I have called the attention of the DPWH regarding this,” she stressed.

The PDRRMO chief said there were signages in the area before but because of the road widening, the signages were taken out and it was not returned.

“We already mapped this area as a ‘black spot’ because of the several accidents that occurred in that same area,” he added.

Cadiao further appealed to DPWH to return and install more road signages, starting from the “Welcome to Antique” arch up to San Jose de Buenavista, emphasizing that the road traversing the area is steep and curvy.


In the same press conference, Colonel Rogelio Abran, Antique police chief, said they could not yet rule on the cause of the accident.

Abran said they have to make a thorough investigation since it might involve technical expertise.

Also, “We don’t want to glorify the bad side of the incident,” he said.

For now, Abran claimed that they are working to manage the incident.

Contrary to earlier reports reaching the Antique provincial government, the bus’ passengers were less than 30 and not 53.

The bus was on its way to San Jose, Antique from Iloilo City when the driver appeared to have lost control while negotiating an S curve of the road at Igbucagay.

According to James Ibañez, he was driving his motorcycle ahead of the bus when he heard an incessant honking coming from the bus.

The bus then encroached the opposite lane, ran over the guard rails, and plunged into a 30-meter-deep ravine.

The bus driver, 39-year-old Ricky Serios from Barangay Igtugas, Tobias Fornier, was also one of those who was instantly killed.

Broderick Train, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer of Antique, said it appeared that the bus “flew” after hitting the barrier and landed on the ground

He said the bus’ front portion was totally wrecked while the majority of the passengers were pulled from the vehicle’s rear side, one on top of the other.


Vallacar Transit, Inc. (VTI), the operator of Ceres Bus Liner, said they will be providing financial assistance to the passengers and their families, including shouldering the medical and burial expenses.

“VTI has reported the incident to the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board immediately, and is willing to cooperate with any investigations they will be conducting,” the company said in a statement.

The VTI has also halted the operations of the remaining 12 units covered by the franchise, which includes the bus involved in the incident, pending the completion of the investigation.

“VTI will be providing financial assistance to the passengers and their families, as well as shouldering the medical and burial expenses,” the company added.

Meanwhile, the provincial and regional office of the Department of Social Welfare And Development Office pledged a total of P30,000 financial assistance to the families of the victims.

The Antique provincial government also appealed to the public to refrain from sharing images and purported CCTV footage from inside the vehicle during the time of the incident.

“[Authorities] are still in the middle of recovering the dashcam footage of the bus. The video circulating on social media may be harmful and derail the ongoing investigation,” it said.

Meanwhile, Gov. Cadiao assured that the provincial government will shoulder all the hospital expenses of the victims.

She also pledged an initial P20,000 to the families who perished in the tragic incident.