Schoolgirls among 54 dead in crash

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The Independent Online

Indonesian police were searching yesterday for a truck driver blamed for causing a crash that killed 54 people, most of them schoolgirls on their way home from a trip to Bali.

Indonesian police were searching yesterday for a truck driver blamed for causing a crash that killed 54 people, most of them schoolgirls on their way home from a trip to Bali.

The crash - one of Indonesia's worst road accidents - turned the small hospital in the town of Situbondo into a makeshift morgue and left the girls' home town of Sleman near Yogyakarta in a state of shock. Weeping students filled the hallways of Yapemda Special High School in Sleman, about 280 miles east of Jakarta. Some parents collapsed in grief as word spread of the crash and a waiting crowd saw only two of three buses return home from the trip.

The children were heading home when their bus collided with an articulated lorry on Wednesday and burst into flames, police said. A delivery truck carrying vegetables then smashed into the back of the bus on the busy highway near Situbondo. Witnesses said they arrived to see the bus engulfed in flames and students struggling in vain to escape.

A police spokesman said the brakes of the articulated lorry appeared to have failed as it came down a hill.

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