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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May, 2005, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
Separate inquiries into bus crash
Emergency workers at the scene of the bus crash in County Meath
Five girls from the same school died in the crash
Three separate investigations are under way to try to establish the cause of a school bus crash in the Irish Republic in which five girls died.

Seventeen people, including 15 teenagers, are still in hospital after the bus overturned at Casey's Cross at Kentstown near Navan in County Meath.

The dead are Lisa Callan, 15, Sinead Ledwidge, 15, Amy McCabe, 15, Claire McCluskey, 18, and Deirdre Scanlon, 17.

It has emerged that the bus had not been fitted with seat belts.

The crash happened at about 1630 BST on Monday but the circumstances are not yet clear.

One student said he remembered the bus being struck by a car before it went on its side.

There is a sense of numbness in this rural community
Shay Grieve

Forty-six people were taken to hospital. Six people who were seriously injured are now said to be in a stable condition.

The more seriously injured were taken to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, the others to Our Lady's Hospital in Navan. A number of them were later discharged.

Irish police, the Health and Safety Executive and Bus Eireann are all conducting separate inquiries into the crash. The scene remains cordoned off.

A special Mass has been said for the dead girls who were all travelling home from school. Four of them attended St Michael's Loretto Convent School in Navan, whilst the fifth was a student at Beaufort College in Navan.

The girls had been sitting at the back of the bus.

Four of them had been due to sit the Republic's equivalent of GCSE's and A'Levels next month.

All of them were from Yellow Furze, just outside Navan.

Classes at the school have been cancelled until further notice and psychologists are meeting to discuss what action to take to help pupils and teachers.

On Monday night, people gathered in the parish church to pray for the dead and injured.

Tom Mulvaney, a pastoral counsellor in Yellow Furze, said the community had been devastated by the crash.

"My first duty would be to extend our deepest sympathy to the relatives - I know them all personally," he said.


More than a dozen ambulances were believed to have travelled to the scene along with helicopters and heavy lifting equipment.

Ambulance crews in Northern Ireland were also put on standby to help with the injured.

The bus ended up lying on its side on the roadside verge. It is believed there were road works in the area at the time of the crash.

Walking wounded were treated at local houses.

Local TD Damien English, who lives in Navan, said it was a horrific tragedy.

"It's unbelievable. Everybody is in shock. It's a terrible waste of young life."

Irish Transport Minister Martin Cullen said there would be a thorough investigation of the accident.

"Obviously, an accident of this nature must and will be investigated independently and fully," he said.

"However, tonight our thoughts are with the children involved, their families and in particular those who have lost loved ones today."

Irish President Mary McAleese broke off from official engagements during a state visit to the US to express her shock at the tragic accident.

A spokesman said: "She sends her deepest sympathy to the families and friends of those who have been bereaved."




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