CONNER, Apayao: Nineteen passengers died while 22 were injured after an ill-fated truck that was reportedly overloaded suffered mechanical trouble and plunged into a 20-meter ravine in Sitio Karikitan, Barangay Gassud on Thursday night.
Brig. Gen. Israel Efraim Dickson, director of the Cordillera Regional Office, identified the fatalities as Amparo Aberion, Domingo Asperela, Hermalina Dacuycuy, Pacita Dajucon, Mercy Pataras, Claro Mamauag, Mamerto Milo, Susana Milo, Ludalina Molina, Rosemarie Molina, Rudy Pagtama, Margie Pamittan, Leticia Patay, Conrado Sabatan, Reymundo Sosa, Brenda Talay, Imelda Talay, Jayson Talay and a still unidentified male person.
Initial police investigation showed that the occupants of the truck came from Rizal, Kalinga on their way to Apayao to get their allocations of palay (unmilled rice) and corn seeds being distributed by the government to Cordillera and Cagayan Valley farmers.
At around 7 p.m., the truck’s engine stopped. The vehicle started to move backward and fell into the ravine, as the brakes allegedly malfunctioned.
Police and concerned citizens helped to bring injured victims to the Conner District Hospital and the Tuguegarao-based Cagayan Valley Medical Center.
Eleven of the injured victims were confined at the Conner District Hospital while three, including the driver, were treated at the Cagayan Valley Medical Center. Eight were unhurt.
The truck was believed overloaded because, aside from the 44 individuals who were on board, there were also dozens of sacks of unmilled rice and corn seeds.