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17 school children killed as truck falls from mountain road in Peru


A mountain road in Peru

Seventeen children have been killed, and dozens seriously injured, after a dump truck plunged off a cliff in central Peru.

The truck belonged to the municipal government of Cahuac, one of several small towns some 160 miles northeast of Lima, where the children had been summoned to take part in a Sunday parade in the provincial capital, said Ruben Alva, governor of the Huanuco region.

Authorities were investigating the crash and the driver, who survived, was being held by police, Alva said.

Some 17 school children, a teacher and parents are among the dead, Alva said.

It is believed that 54 others, mostly children, were seriously injured.

Deadly road accidents are common in Peru, where enforcement of passenger limits and driver competence is minimal and many rural routes are in poor condition.

The truck was making its way uphill around a curve on a dirt road when it rolled backward and over a cliff, Alva said.

"It dropped into a ravine, falling for about 100 meters," Alva said. "They were close to home, maybe 15 minutes away."

Poverty rates in the highlands are higher than the national average and many townsfolk pile onto farm and construction vehicles to between towns due to a lack of public transportation.

But Alva said it was not normal for the municipality to use a dump truck to transport locals.