42 children killed in Bangladesh bus crash

A vehicle packed with schoolchildren returning home from a soccer tournament crashed into a canal in south-eastern Bangladesh, killing at least 42, a police official said.

About 60 children between ages 8 and 12 were on the vehicle that crashed, and the death toll may rise as more bodies are feared trapped inside the sunken vehicle, police official Iftekhar Hasan said.

Rescuers recovered 42 bodies from the wreckage in Chittagong district, 216 kilometers (136 miles) southeast of the capital, Dhaka. Hasan could not immediately say how many survived.

It was also not immediately clear if the driver of the vehicle was among the dead.

Military troops joined the rescue team, and more doctors from nearby towns were deployed to help the survivors.

After the students watched the tournament, a cargo truck was hired to return them home, he said.

“According to several witnesses the boys were singing and dancing on board the truck,” said the official. “The truck skidded off the muddy road and turned (over) as it plunged into the canal.”

Angry residents vandalized some vehicles in the area as they complained the rescuers were late to reach the scene. Video footage showed some relatives of the dead wailing at their homes and in the hospitals.

In Bangladesh, it’s usual to hire cargo trucks for a quick ride to carry large groups during festivals or celebrations.

Local journalist Mohammad Palash, who visited the site of the accident, said rescuers sent the bodies to hospitals.

Hundreds of anxious people gathered at the site to look for their loved ones.

Road accidents are common in Bangladesh due to reckless driving, lax traffic rules and poor road conditions.

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