20 dead, 10 hurt as truck falls into ravine in SoCot

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – At least 20 people died while 10 others were injured on Tuesday after a truck carrying family members from a beach reunion fell into a ravine in a remote village in Tboli town, South Cotabato.

Rolly Doane Aquino, operations and warning head of the South Cotabato Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said the Isuzu Forward truck was traversing a steep portion of the road in Barangay Lamsalome, Tboli past 9 a.m. when the accident happened.

“Our authorities are still determining what really caused (the accident) but the truck driver appeared to have lost control of the vehicle while it was going down from a higher portion of the road,” he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a phone interview.

Aquino said the truck fell around 80 to 100 meters from the main road.

Aquino, who rushed to the scene along with the PDRRMO rescue team, said 15 of the truck’s passengers died on-the-spot while four more were declared dead upon arrival at the Upper Valley Community Hospital (UVCH) in Surallah town.

He said another victim died while undergoing treatment at the UVCH, bringing the number of casualties to 20.

The victims suffered from severe head trauma and multiple body fractures, he said.

The official said nine victims were rushed to the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital in Koronadal City while one was brought to the Dagang Hospital in Tboli.

He said they are still determining the status of the injured victims, some of whom were reportedly in critical condition.

A report of the Tboli municipal police station said the truck (WNN 207) was traversing an alternate road via Barangay Koronadal Proper in Polomolok town when it “fell down at the mountainous highway” upon reaching the boundary of Barangays Lambangan and Lamsalome in Tboli.

In a radio interview, Tboli Mayor Dibu Tuan said the truck was carrying around 30 people who came from a family reunion in this city on Monday and were on their way home to Surallah using the alternate route.

Tuan said the driver reportedly lost control of the vehicle after its brakes malfunctioned while going down the steep portion of the road.

Surallah Mayor Antonio Bendita confirmed that most of the victims were residents of Zone 2, Barangay Libertad in his municipality.

Aquino said based on the identification cards recovered from the victims, some of them were residents of Surallah, South Cotabato and Bagumbayan in Sultan Kudarat.  Allen Estabillo / With reports from Roel Osano and Alejandro Saludo/PNA