DAVAO -- A truck transporting 23 people, who were to arrange a wedding for a relative, crashed into a tree and plunged down a ravine in M’lang, Cotabato early Wednesday, leaving nine people dead and 17 others injured.

The victims were onboard a dump truck from Barangay Sebya, Matalam and on their way to Polomolok, South Cotabato at 3:34 a.m. when the incident happened.

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Police said the driver lost control of the truck after its brakes malfunctioned, resulting in the accident.

Most of the victims belonged to one family, surnamed Mondragon, and were on their way to a “pamamanhikan” (A Filipino tradition of asking the hand of a woman to marriage).

Ariel Manuto, a resident in the area who witnessed the accident, said the truck was traveling at a fast speed.

M’lang Mayor Joselito Piñol said most of the nine bodies were found entirely crushed.

The injured victims are still undergoing treatment at Tulio Pavali Hospital in Tulunan, Cotabato, while those who are in critical condition were transferred to Davao Medical Center in Davao City.

Piñol said some of the victims were thrown out of the truck due to strong impact.

Investigation on the road mishap is still ongoing. The police are looking for two angles: whether the brakes were busted or the driver fell asleep.

A day earlier, two South Korean and five Filipino workers died when their van collided with a passenger bus traveling on the opposite side of the road in northern Bataan province.

On Saturday, 12 pilgrims returning from a visit to various Catholic churches died when their bus hit a tree in northern La Union province.

Poor vehicle maintenance and bad roads are blamed for many accidents in the country. (Edgardo Fuerzas of Sun.Star Davao/AP/Sunnex)