DRAMATIC RESCUE | Army, PNP, civilian rescue units pluck 25 people from roof of bus swamped by floods in Quezon

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The DLTB bus still stuck on the side of a road where flashfloods from upland combined with a swollen river swept it away early Tuesday. Photo was taken as the waters receded, hours after the dramatic rescue of all 25 people stranded on the bus rooftop. NEWS5 PHOTO, HANNIBAL ATELETE

MANILA – A bus driver and his passengers’ presence of mind, and prompt action by police, military and local civilian authorities made possible a dramatic rescue of 25 people stranded on the roof of a bus swamped by floodwaters in Pitogo, Quezon early Tuesday morning.

At about 3am Tuesday, a Bicol-bound bus from Pasay driven by Joseph Serrano took a detour from the Atimonan-Plaridel-Gumaca road in a bid to avoid floods, but got into worse straits: it took a road that turned out to be beside a swollen river. This, according to an account pieced together by Senior Supt. Roderick Armamento, provincial PNP chief of Quezon, in a radio interview.

The river water, combined with rampaging flashfloods from nearby mountains quickly submerged the DLTB Bus in neck-deep water, forcing all 24 passengers including three minors to climb out and seek safety atop the roof of the bus.

Timely SOS alert by driver Serrano prompted Police Insp. Ginalyn de Leon to send out alerts, but rescue teams could not reach the place at once owing to bad weather and flood-submerged roads, Armamento told radio DZBB.

The Army’s 85th Infantry Battalion based in Gumaca was called, and sent several trucks.

Local governments in Quezon also deployed rescue teams. Catanauan town sent a couple of bancas.

By 7 am, the rescue was well under way, and all 25 people, including driver Serrano, were finally safely plucked out of harm’s way at past 9am.

Senior Supt. Armamento cited Serrano for his presence of mind and timely alert to authorities. He also praisedthe civilian, police and military outfits that helped in the dramatic rescue.