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Last Updated: Friday, 19 March, 2004, 11:59 GMT
Finnish bus crash leaves 24 dead
A ski tourist bus (right) and a truck stand at the side of the road after their collision
The bus was carrying ski tourists to the northern region of Lapland
At least 24 people were killed and 15 injured when a bus and truck collided on icy roads in central Finland.

The bus was carrying 40 people, mostly teenagers, to ski resorts in Lapland.

Police said the collision at about 0200 (2400 GMT) sent the truck's cargo of heavy paper rolls crashing through the windscreen of the bus.

The Finnish government declared a national day of mourning for what it said was the country's worst ever traffic accident.

It also recommended that flags be flown at half-mast and launched an inquiry into the accident.

'Serious condition'

The collision happened near the town of Aanekoski, about 335km (200 miles) north of the capital Helsinki.

Rescuers arriving at the scene said the bus was so badly crumpled that it took hours to cut some survivors free.

The injured, some of them in serious condition, were taken to a hospital in the nearby city of Jyvaskyla.

"We have some 24 people dead, most of them aged 15 to 20 years old," the hospital's chief medical officer Jukka Puolakka told AFP.

Police said the precise cause of the accident had not yet been established.

However the truck driver blamed icy conditions for the crash.

Nordic countries in snow misery
22 Dec 03  |  Europe
Country profile: Finland
29 Feb 04  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Finland
03 Mar 04  |  Country profiles

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