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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 February 2008, 10:04 GMT
Girl critical after bus collision
Nicola Murray
Nicola Murray was killed in the collision
A nine-year-old girl remains critically ill following an accident in County Tyrone which claimed the life of her 16-year-old cousin.

Nicola Murray, a pupil at St Ciaran's High School in Ballygawley, died in the collision between the bus and a lorry on Wednesday.

Her cousin, Grainne Mallon, is being treated in Belfast's Royal Hospital.

Martin Mallon, Nicola's uncle, said the families are close and comforting each other.

"The family has come through a lot of stuff over the years - they all stick together and they are strong," he said.

"The people round that area, Protestant, Catholic it doesn't matter what they are, they are all extremely good neighbours and all work very well together and stand together.

"That's what really keeps things going, that community spirit and it keeps their heads up."

Education Minister Caitríona Ruane is to brief other ministers on the tragedy when the Northern Ireland Executive meets later.

Father Pat Hannigan spent several hours with Grainne's family at the Royal and said they were trying to remain strong.

"They were hopeful, they were optimistic but quietly so," he said.

"Obviously they are in a state of shock and there is that cloud, or shadow, that's hanging over them. But they are hopeful, and they are very much together."

The crash happened as the bus turned into St Mary's Primary School in Cabragh at about 0830 GMT on Wednesday.

The injured children are aged between seven and 17
We simply cannot afford to wait a further two or three years until the new road is constructed before some measures are introduced
Tom Elliott

The bus was carrying about eight pupils from St Ciaran's High School and seven from St Mary's Primary School.

The driver of the lorry, who was arrested after the accident, has since been released by police.

It is understood the bus involved was a new vehicle, fully fitted with seatbelts and had CCTV cameras.

The schools said there was a good culture of wearing seatbelts among the pupils.

There have been calls for action to address the number of fatal accidents on the Ballygawley line.

A multimillion-pound roads improvement scheme which will turn the road into a dual carriageway got under way earlier this month.

Local assembly member Tom Elliott said there needed to be interim measures to reduce the number of accidents on the road.

"We simply cannot afford to wait a further two or three years until the new road is constructed before some measures are introduced," he said.

Teenage girl killed in bus crash
27 Feb 08 |  Northern Ireland

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