Glasgow & West Scotland

Bus crash leaves 22 school children in hospital

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Media captionThe bus tumbled down an embankment at Dowanfield Road

Twenty-two children have been taken to hospital after a bus carrying more than 40 school pupils overturned in North Lanarkshire.

The incident happened outside Our Lady's High School in Cumbernauld shortly before 09:00.

The single decker, which was coming from the Abronhill area, flipped onto its side at Dowanfield Road, next to the school.

Emergency services remain at the scene of the crash.

Police said a 16-year-old girl was taken by ambulance to Wishaw General Hospital for what is believed to be non-serious injuries.

Another 10 patients were taken to Monklands Hospital in Airdrie and 11 to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow for observation.

Mechanical issues

Others involved in the crash were taken to an assembly hall within the school for attention.

A major incident was declared after the bus left the road and tumbled down an embankment at a corner on Dowanfield Road.

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Image caption The bus crashed at Dowanfield Road near Our Lady's High School

In the immediate aftermath, 29 ambulance service units went to the scene, along with police and the fire service.

Pupil Joe Smith, who was a passenger, said the vehicle appeared to experience mechanical issues in the run up to the crash.

He told the BBC: "On one of the roundabouts, the driver had pulled his key back. I thought his engine had started to malfunction because the bus was shaking.

"We came to the corner and he tried to pull his key out again because we thought the bus had malfunctioned again and it started to speed up...we hit the lamp-post and then the bus toppled and fell over and unfortunately I fell on one of my friends."

He added: "When we were on the bus I heard people shouting and crying 'oh no, this isn't going to happen'."

'Flip right over'

Joe said he was able to get out of the bus after the driver smashed an emergency window and a teacher ran over and began pulling pupils from the vehicle.

Parent Ashleigh Douglas was taking her daughter to school when she witnessed the crash. She said: "I saw the bus come down the hill and its wheel hit the curb. Then, I don't know if it exploded, but there was fire coming out of it. Then I just saw it flip right over."

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Image caption Police said 22 children had been taken to hospital as a result of the crash

In a statement, North Lanarkshire Council said: "A single decker bus overturned just before 9am this morning close to Our Lady's HS, Cumbernauld.

"The bus was coming from the Abronhill area (Moss Road), with around 44 pupils on board."

Police Scotland said the crash happened at about 08:45 and that no other vehicles were involved.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said three fire engines had attended and a small fire in the engine compartment of the bus had been extinguished.

All the passengers had got off the bus before their arrival.

Emergency crews remain at the scene and an investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.

Image caption Emergency crews remain at the scene of the crash

Danny McNulty, head teacher at the school, said: "I would like to thank the emergency services for their speedy response this morning, and the entire school community who pulled together at this difficult time to support one another.

"Our parents, staff and chaplain have been a valuable support to our young people at this time.

"We are planning to hold assemblies this afternoon to update our staff and pupils on the situation and to thank them for everything they have done today."

'Terrifying experience'

Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary John Swinney praised the response of the emergency services. He said: "While it is welcome news that nobody has been seriously hurt in this incident, it must have been a terrifying experience for those involved.

"I am sure everyone connected to Our Lady's High School and the wider community will be grateful for the quick and professional response by the emergency services and the excellent care now being offered to those with injuries."

Councillor Frank McNally, convener of education at North Lanarkshire Council, said a full investigation would be carried out into the crash.

He said: "The emergency services were very quick on the scene.

"The council will be working very closely with the emergency services to undertake any necessary investigation.

"At North Lanarkshire we take the safety of out young people very, very seriously. Parents on a daily basis give us their most important possessions - their children - and it is important that we investigate this matter fully."

Image copyright PA
Image copyright PA
Image caption A salvage operation is under way to remove the bus