Philippines pilgrims killed in Christmas Mass car crash

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At least 20 people were killed in a pre-dawn collision in north Philippines on Monday, in an incident involving a passenger bus and type of minivan locally known as “jeepney,” a customized passenger vehicle based on an SUV. Six children were among the casualties, authorities said.

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All of the passengers who lost their lives were riding in the van, the engine of which was ripped off due to the impact. Police said they belonged to the same extended family and were heading to Mass at Our Lady of Manaoag at the time of the crash in the town of Agoo. The Catholic church in the nearby Manaoag is popular among pilgrims.

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Philippines Jeepney (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Reboredo)

Jeepnies are known for their flamboyant decoration

The jeepney driver was also killed. Another nine passengers in the minibus and 17 on the passenger bus were injured, according to the police.

“There is a possibility that the jeepney overtook another vehicle and crashed into the bus on the opposite lane,” police chief Roy Villanueva said. “We are also checking if the driver fell asleep and swerved to the other lane.”

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Jeepneys, originally made from decommissioned US army jeeps, are the most popular mode of transport in the Philippines. Rickety vehicles and lack of safety signs, as well as reckless driving often cause deadly road accidents in the Asian country.

dj/xx (AP,AFP dpa)