GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/17 September) – Twenty people were killed while 10 others were injured after a truck fell into a ravine Tuesday morning in Tboli town in South Cotabato.
The vehicle carried family members who attended a reunion in a beach in this city.
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 incident 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 said in a phone interview.
He 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 fracture, 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 released by the Tboli municipal police station said the truck, with license plate 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.
Tboli Mayor Dibu Tuan said in a radio interview the truck was reportedly 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.
He said the driver reportedly lost control of the vehicle after its brakes malfunctioned while going down the steep portion of the road.
He said they will study the possibility of banning heavy vehicles from using the route because some segments of the road are steep and winding.
The route passing Barangays Lambangan and Lamsalome cuts travel time from the towns of Surallah and T’boli to General Santos City, via Polomolok town, South Cotabato, by at least an hour. That route bypasses Koronadal City, the capital of South Cotabato.
Surallah Mayor Antonio Bendita confirmed that most of the victims were residents of Zone 2, Barangay Libertad in his municipality.
Bendita said the local government was shocked by the accident. “We are mourning their deaths.”
Aquino said that based on the identification cards recovered from the victims, some of them were residents of Surallah, South Cotabato and Bagumbayan in Sultan Kudarat. (MindaNews/with a report from Bong Sarmiento)