By Rey Anthony Chiu | 08:50 AM May 01, 2022
Local investigators are now seeking for information on the identity of the driver and possible passenger of a Bongo pick-up truck that was among the 15 vehicles now up for salvage, if only to seal the investigation as to the survivors and casualties of tragic bridge collapse Wednesday afternoon.
The identity and where abouts of the driver and a possible passenger of the abandoned Bongo truck would add to the list of survivors or, if unlucky, the casualties when the decades-old bridge caved in, due to overloading.
Loay mayor and lawyer Hilario Ayuban Jr., in his social media on April 28, some 20 hours after the bridge collapse said after four dives during the day, the rescue divers noted 15 vehicles underwater, and believed to be involved in the accident.
These include 5 motorcycles, 2 tricycles, a Suzuki multicab, an Isuzu Crosswind, Toyota Avanza, Suzuki Celerio, Toyota Innova, a closed van, a dumptruck and the Bongo.
Provincial Disaster Officer Anthony Damalerio, in interviews said their initial investigation bared that while the bridge implemented a one-way traffic to Tagbilaran at that time, a dumptruck fully loaded with construction materials entered the bridge from the opposite direction, and counter-flowed.
The Clarin Bridge, built in the 1970’s has survived the 2013 earthquake and the strong currents of the Loboc River, but weakened by time, authorities had to reinforce the structure to temporarily serve the commuting public and the traffic, until the parallel new bridge can be opened.
The Department of Public Works and Highways has closed the weakened bridge for heavy vehicles, since March 12.
The fully loaded dumptruck, which counterflowed, was set to dump its cargo on the opposite bridge project, and has been using the weakened bridge.
At the time when the dumptruck was traversing the bridge, a temporary stop stalled the load to a specific weak point in the bridge, leading to tits buckling due to the over-load.
Disaster and Risk Reduction rescue teams immediately started rescue operations, knowing that it would just take minutes before the sunken vehicles would become watery traps for the drivers and passengers who could not get out of their ill-fated vehicles. The fallen truss bridge also pinned down several vehicles that it would take professional salvage teams to cur through metal to free the sunken vehicles.
On the night of April 27, Mayor Ayuban officially announced the survivors of the accident to include tourists Hazel Avelez of Pateros, Jopol Ancheta of Cavite, Ralph Esma of Cebu City, Dionesia Laolao of Panglao, Luz Laolao of Panglao, Louella Mercado of Alegria Sur, Loay, Ronald Jesus Cruz Rojas of Canmanico, Valencia, Alvin Acorda of Poblacion Ibabao, Loay.
Gerry Rellita of Catagbacan, Loon, Julia Ouschan – Austrian national, Digna Solis of Alegria Sur, Loay, Alberto Manuel Dela Serna of Tagbilaran City, Gian Arlo Gagni of Tagbilaran City, Gemma De La Cruz – Bingag, Dauis, Bonifacio Mefania of Bingag, Dauis.
Ian Aba-a of Concepcion, Loay, Mariana Ysabelle Gimena of Villalimpia, Loay, Junryle Malig-on of Alburquerque, Milanio Caberte Jr. of Agape, Loboc, Samson Caberte of Agape, Loboc, Jobert Pequit of Poblacion Ibabao, Loay, Edgar Paraiso of Poblacion Ubos, Loay, Christian Jake Laurente of Alegria Sur, Loay.
Sofia Asombrado Monungolh of Tagbilaran City, Deborah Olalo of Tagbilaran City, Alex Mariano Ampo of Tagbilaran City, Lydia Flores of Dauis, James Dylan Flores of Dauis, Mark Eunice Glenn Hontanosas of Dauis, Shrrie Elaine Tapon of Dauis and Nancy Tapon of Dauis.
Those who were not as lucky and were declared casualties were Austrian national Michael Ouschan, Arniel Cilos of Bingag, Dauis, Emilia A. Gimena of Villalimpia, Loay and Epifhany C. Onada of Tagbilaran City.
According to the mayor who set up a command center on the bridge across, rescue and retrieval operations continued past midnight, despite the murky waters and treacherous currents of the river.
When search and retrieval operation continued the following day, some 57 divers from the different rescue and hobby groups including the BPMEO, Panglao Dive Masters, BFP Panglao, Bohol Maritime Police, Vesna Panglao Conservation, MEMRO Panglao, DENR CENRO, Phil Army and PDRRM Tarsier 117 scoured the river bottom to search for more trapped victims.
The mayor said the Command Center did not get any more reports of missing persons, even as the initial investigation attempted to match the survivors and the casualties to the vehicles in the water.
The investigation also showed that there were no survivors or casualties tied to two vehicles: the closed aluminium van with plate number 0716-566234 and the Bongo without a plate number.
Last Saturday morning, the employer of the driver of the closed aluminium van owned by KPY Logistics reported that the driver, Alver Paray is alive and has gone home in Cebu, safe and sound.
This makes him the 32nd survivor.
The identity and whereabout of the Bongo truck is now the only missing piece to seal the initial investigation.
LGU Loay is now forming a team to fully investigate the matter as the Sangguninag Panlalawigan is accordingly poised also to do a separate investigation to pin in the culpability of the tragic incident that has claimed lives and inconvenienced thousands of commuters. (rahc/PIA_7/Bohol)