Filipinos die in jeepney crash 

A bus collided with a jeepney van carrying pilgrims to Christmas Mass in the Philippines, leaving at least 20 people dead and adding to the woes affecting the archipelago over the festive period. 

A five-month-old baby was among the dead and more than 24 people were injured in the collision that took place in the northern Philippines’ town of Agoo in La Union province.

Chief Superintendent Romulo Sapitula said all those killed were in the jeepney, including the driver.

The ubiquitous jeepney is the most popular form of public transport in the Philippines.

In the Mindanao city of Davao, 37 people were killed when a fire broke out at a shopping mall. The victims were call centre agents working for Research Now Survey Sampling International (SSI), an outsourcing company based in the New City Commercial Centre mall.

The authorities have not provided a cause of the fire.

The two Christmas disasters come amid havoc caused by Typhoon Tembin.

Vietnam has prepared to move a million people from low-lying areas along its south coast as the typhoon heads west after hammering the Philippines with floods and landslides that killed more than 230 people. The death toll is expected to rise considerably.

The Philippines is battered by about 20 typhoons a year but disaster officials said many villagers had ignored warnings this time to abandon coastal areas and move away from rivers.

Arturo Simbajon, a health worker, said nearly the whole coastal village of Anungan on the Zamboanga peninsula of Mindanao had been crushed by a barrage of wood, rocks and mud that swept down a river and out to sea.

“Only the mosque was left standing,” Simbajon told the media. “People were watching the rising sea but did not expect the water to come from behind them.”

Tembin hit the Philippines just before Christmas.

Hanoi ordered that oil rigs and vessels be protected and 62,000 fishing boats were told not venture out to sea.

“Vietnam must ensure the safety of its oil rigs and vessels. If necessary, close the oil rigs and evacuate workers,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said, according to a government website.

On Sunday, Tembin hit the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, which Vietnam and China both claim. No casualties were reported at the controversial Chinese outposts there.

Jeepneys. Picture credit: Flickr