MANILA, Philippines — A packed passenger bus negotiating a downhill curve plunged off a Philippine mountain highway into a 100-foot ravine Wednesday, killing 40 people in one of the country's worst recent accidents, police said.
Ten people, including a 10-year-old boy, survived and nine were taken to hospitals, said police chief Wilben Mayor of Benguet province north of Manila.
Mayor said most of the victims were pinned to death while others were thrown out as the bus tumbled down.
He said 39 bodies were recovered from the twisted wreckage. Emergency workers were trying to extricate another body that remained pinned near the bus engine more than six hours later, he said.
The victims' remains, including a toddler's, were put in body bags on the highway.
The bus zoomed between a tree and a house and plunged into the ravine, Mayor said. The driver, who survived with a broken leg, would be investigated, he said.
Conductor John Patrick Flores told The Associated Press by telephone that the brakes on the bus failed as the driver was negotiating a downhill curve.
He said the driver was aiming to hit a lamppost to stop the bus from falling but missed and it jumped over a foot-high road barrier.
Survivor 'jumped off the bus' in narrow escape
"I jumped off the bus to the side of the road before the bus plunged into the ravine," Flores said. He suffered only minor bruises.
He said he was the first person to reach the bus and carried the 10-year-old boy with a broken leg up the ravine. Local residents helped rescue other passengers, six of whom were brought to hospital in Baguio.
The bus was carrying about 50 people from the northern mountain city of Baguio when it crashed in Sablan township, about eight miles away.
Flores said the bus was not speeding as it had just dropped off a passenger and picked up another a short distance away from where the vehicle plunged.
Accidents in the area are common because of poorly maintained vehicles. The weather was fine and the highway is in good condition.
Last month, 15 people died when their bus slammed into a concrete barrier in the central Philippines. A month earlier, a bus rented by Iranian medical students fell into a ravine near central Cebu city, killing 21 people.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.