The truck belonged to the municipal government of Cahuac, one of several small towns some 160 miles (260 kilometers) northeast of Lima where 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.

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."

Several schoolchildren, a teacher and parents were among the dead, Alva said.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.

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