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35 Students Hurt In N.Z. Truck-bus Crash

RUATOKI, New Zealand, Sept. 5 (UPI) — A logging truck rear-ended a school bus in New Zealand Monday, injuring 35 students, including one critically, authorities said.

The 3:30 p.m. crash occurred in rural Ruatoki, the New Zealand Herald reported.

An 8-year-old girl was hospitalized in critical condition and several other children — students at Taneatua Primary School, Trident High School and Whakatane High School — suffered serious injuries, the newspaper said. The truck driver was in stable condition, while the bus driver was not hurt seriously.

Jody Rua, 15, said the bus was slowing down to drop him off near his home “when there was just a big bang and the logging truck had rammed us.” He said he was thrown from one end of the bus to the other by the impact.

Rua said he got up and started helping other children out of the bus.

“Some of the kids looked like they had been attacked by sharks,” he said. “The kids were just cut up in pieces — most of them couldn’t feel it and were walking around. I was just freaking out looking at them. There was a girl in the middle of the road with shark-bit legs.

“I gathered the kids who weren’t injured together and then there were a few kids who were trapped in their seats, so we helped get them off.”

He also ran across the road to get a first-aid kit from his aunt’s house.

“I just did what I could, but there were lots of people who were helping out,” he told the Herald.

Local police Inspector Sandra Venables said the cause of the crash had not been determined.

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