West Bank bus tragedy kills 5 children, teacher

AFP , Friday 17 Feb 2012

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declares three days of national mourning after 5 pre-school children and teacher had died in a tragic road accident in the West Bank

West Bank
Palestinian and Israeli rescue teams work at a site of a bus accident near the checkpoint of Hizmeh between Jerusalem and the West Bank, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012. (Photo:AP)

A Palestinian minister on Friday said five pre-school children and a teacher had died in a tragic road accident in the West Bank, and that another seven people are fighting for their lives.

Speaking to AFP a day after an articulated lorry ploughed into a bus carrying the children on a school outing, Palestinian health minister Fathi Abu Mughli put the toll at six dead.

Israeli police had on Thursday said at least eight children had died. "Six people died yesterday," Abu Mughli said.

"Three of the bodies have been identified while the rest are still being examined," he said, indicating that most of the dead and injured were children aged between four and seven.

He said 54 people had been injured in Thursday's deadly collision at a busy road junction just north of Jerusalem. By Friday morning, 39 people were still in hospital, seven of them "in critical condition," Abu Mughli said.

Israeli police said on Thursday that "at least eight" children had died in the crash which saw the lorry skid across a wet road into the bus, which flipped over and burst into flames.

The bus was packed with scores of children from a Palestinian school in Anata in east Jerusalem who were going on an outing to Ramallah.

The lorry driver, also a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, was injured in the collision.

Two of the children were buried on Thursday, and mourners were attending a funeral for a third on Friday morning, witnesses said.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has declared three days of national mourning.

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