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Crash kills 44 children

Victims, mostly aged 12-18, died when truck overturned into a ditch reporter, Chittagong

July 12, 2011

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A nation was in mourning today after a truck full of schoolchildren returning from a football match crashed into a flooded roadside ditch yesterday killing at least 44.

The tragedy, which also left 12 survivors in critical condition, occurred in Mirsarai sub-district of southeastern Chittagong. Local residents said about 60-70 students mostly aged 12-18 were packed in the back of the truck.

Today, thousands of people attended a mass funeral for 38 of the students in the grounds of a local high school as the tragic news sent shock waves across the country.

Local media reported that the driver, who later fled the scene, was talking on a mobile phone when the accident happened.

Church leaders led prayers for the dead and offered condolences to the bereaved families.

“It’s a heart-breaking accident. It happened because of a man’s negligence,” said coadjutor Holy Cross Archbishop Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka.

“Authorities should do more to prevent further tragedies like this taking place,” the former prelate of Chittagong diocese added.

Caritas Chittagong regional director James Gomes said the emergency services called to the scene lacked necessary equipment that could have saved more lives.

“The families have our full sympathy and we’re sending a team today to see if Caritas can do something to help them,” he said.

Bangladesh Christian Association secretary Nirmol Rozario questioned why so many children were on the truck.

“There are several parties who should be taking the blame for this painful accident: the school administration, the driver, local authorities and law enforcement. All those students should never have been in that truck.”

“Rozario added his organization will issue a statement today demanding proper compensation for the dead children's families and call for measures to prevent further tragedies.

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