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Fuel truck blast death toll now 7

Two more bodies were discovered inside a burned fuel truck that rammed a residential area along a national highway in Pinabacdao town, Samar, over the weekend, raising the death toll to seven, including a six-month old baby girl.

In a police report submitted to Camp Crame, Quezon City, two of the newly-discovered cadavers turned out to be hitchhikers along with another one who was earlier mistaken as a truck helper but later identified as a woman named Evangelyn Luchaves.

The report disclosed that the two cadavers appeared to be the children of Luchaves, identified as seven-year old Apple Chan and four-year old Keisha Jane.

“During the extrication of the bodies of the truck driver and another one, two more cadavers were discovered at the back of the driver’s seat,” the report read.

The driver was later identified as Romeo Oquien, a native of Negros Island.

During the conduct of the probe, witnesses told police that the truck was last seen negotiating a sharp curve and descending part of the road in Barangay Lale at around 1 a.m.

Two motorcycle riders, who was tailing the tanker then, told the investigators that they noticed an unusual noise emanating from the transmission of the fuel tanker before it rammed the residential area alongside the road.

The fuel tanker travelling along the northbound lane of the road came from Tacloban City. The report said the fuel tanker was loaded with diesel and gasoline.

“The witnesses said they saw the truck speeding while negotiating a sharp curve. They said the truck driver appeared to be desperately trying to apply the brakes but to no avail,” the report read.

The truck later rammed the row of houses alongside the road before it exploded and burned at least three houses.

The incident resulted in the death of Michael Buenavidez, his wife Maryjoy and six-month-old baby Angela who were then sleeping inside their house, according to the report.

It took at least four hours before fire was controlled. The retrieval, however, was done in the afternoon as authorities still made sure that the retrieval teams would be safe.

The fatalities inside the truck were later identified based on the coordination and investigation done by the local police.

It was not immediately clear, however, when and where the three hitchhikers rode the truck.

On the other hand, initial investigation pointed to mechanical defect as the reason of the road accident.

But in its recommendation submitted to Camp Crame, the local police led by Inspector Ricky Rubillos are eyeing a case of obstruction of justice against the owner of the truck for failure to cooperate with the police.