9 dead as truck crashes into a ravine in Cebu town

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – Seven schoolchildren were among 9 people killed Friday, July 19, aboard a runaway truck that crashed into a ravine in Cebu province while transporting them to a sports activity, the authorities said.

The dump truck's brakes failed while it descended a mountain road outside Boljoon town in Cebu with about 30 children and a few parents and teachers crammed on the truck bed, Mayor Merlou Derama told AFP.

"The driver tried to slow the vehicle by brushing its side against the mountain," Derama said, adding it fell on its side instead.

Four boys and 3 girls were killed, alongside Victoria Gorozon, 40; and Alexander Villanueva, 20. Earlier reports said 8 children died in the crash.

Meanwhile, a statement from the Department of Education (DepEd) said “39 learners from Nangka and San Antonio Elementary Schools, together with two parents and two teachers, were on their way to a district athletic meet on board a mini dump truck which suddenly lost its breaks and fell into a ravine.”

DepEd said the Schools Division Superintendent of Cebu Province was tasked to attend to the “victims who were brought to the neighboring district hospitals in Boljoon, Vincente Sotto, Carcar, and Oslob.”

“Twelve learners with minor bruises have been allowed to go home,” added DepEd.

According to a Boljoon police report, at least 15 minors between the ages of 9 and 13, and one 27-year-old adult female were injured in the crash and were being treated in local hospitals.

Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWD) Acting Head Wilson Ramos said the provincial government would give burial assistance to the families of those who died on the spot. 

Boljoon police said they planned to ask state prosecutors to file charges of multiple homicide against the driver, who was unhurt.

The local government lent the vehicle to the remote school to transport its athletes to a competition in Boljoon because transport options are limited in the area, Mayor Derama said.

Last month, another dump truck rolled over on a mountainous road in eastern Camarines Sur province, killing 13 people according to local police. – with reports from Ryan Macasero/Rappler.com