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20 dead as truck falls off cliff in southern Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Twenty villagers were killed and 14 others were injured when the truck they were riding in lost control and fell off a cliff Tuesday in a remote mountain village in the southern Philippines, police and the Red Cross said.

Provincial police chief Joel Limson said the truck was negotiating a downhill road in Tboli town in South Cotabato province when its brakes apparently failed and plummeted down a ravine, pinning 15 people to death. Five other victims later died in hospitals, Limson said.

Police, Red Cross volunteers and villagers retrieved the 15 bodies from the wreckage at the bottom of the ravine. Some of the dead included children returning from a family reunion at a beach resort, Limson said by phone.

Red Cross leader Erwin Rommel del Carmen said several passengers survived by jumping off the wayward bus.

“Majority of the survivors jumped out of the bus as it ran out of control. They were scattered on the mountainside,” del Carmen, who was among those who retrieved the dead, said by phone.

Video posted by witnesses online showed the upland road where the accident happened has no steel or concrete railing. Below, the mangled wreckage of the truck is seen lying on its side.

Deadly road accidents are common in the Philippines because of weak enforcement of traffic laws, rickety vehicles and inadequate road safety railings and signs, especially in the countryside.

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