- By Tiffany Turnbull
- BBC News, Sydney
A group of primary school children have suffered ‘life-altering’ traumatic injuries after a horrific bus crash in Melbourne, Australia.
The bus was carrying 45 students when it was hit from behind by a truck and overturned on Tuesday afternoon, police said.
18 children – between the ages of 5 and 11 – were taken to hospital, many of whom had emergency surgeries. One remains in intensive care.
The truck driver has been charged with dangerous driving causing serious injuries.
Australia has a below-average road safety record compared to other developed economies. It ranks 20th out of 36 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in terms of road deaths.
Warning: This article contains distressing details
Police said the bus had just left Exford Primary School, on the western outskirts of Melbourne, when the collision occurred.
The children were trapped inside the bus before bystanders—including the truck driver and several of their teachers, who had rushed to the scene—helped emergency responders free them from the wreckage.
Surgeons worked into the early hours of the morning to treat these seriously injured children. Their injuries included broken limbs – a forced amputation – as well as head injuries, spinal injuries and severe lacerations.
The Royal Children’s Hospital said seven children remain in hospital in serious condition, including one in intensive care.
“It’s just heartbreaking, to know what our children have been through and I can only imagine their fear,” school principal Lisa Campo told the media on Wednesday.
The 52-year-old bus driver was also taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was among those who thanked first responders and sent best wishes to the families involved.
“Any horrible incident, just the fact that it involves only schoolchildren breaks your heart,” he said.
Superintendent Michael Cruz said the crash scene was very grueling for everyone involved.
Some injuries are life changing [and] This accident could have been avoided.”
The 49-year-old truck driver – who sustained minor injuries – has since been charged with four counts of dangerous driving.
Investigations are ongoing, but Supet Cruz said “inattention” will be the main focus, and more charges are likely to be filed.
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