20 people including 18 children injured in bus crash
AT LEAST 18 schoolchildren have been injured after a bus they were on crashed into a ditch.
The collision, also involving at least one car, occurred at about 8.50am as pupils were being transported to classes in rural Limerick.
They were on their way to St John the Baptist Community School in the village of Hospital in the south of the county.
There were about 46 pupils on the 57-seater bus and it is understood more than a dozen were rushed to University Hospital Limerick for treatment.
Noreen Rafferty, principal of the school, said the injuries were mostly confined to "bruises and scrapes".
"It is minor injuries," she said. "They are being checked out at the minute."
Other children who were on the bus at the time of the crash were taken to schools in the local area where they were being met by parents and relatives.
"They are very shocked and we are organising counselling," Ms Rafferty said.
Gardaí said injuries to pupils were mostly minor and the drivers of both the bus and the car were also taken to hospital.
The crash happened at Connolly's Cross on the R513 road near Caherconlish in Co Limerick. The bus ended up in the ditch and turned on to its side.
The school transport service was operated by a sub-contractor on behalf of Bus Éireann.
"Bus Éireann are currently assisting the relevant authorities with their investigations into the incident," the company said.
"We would like to express our gratitude to all the emergency services for their rapid response and we will continue to liaise with the school and parents of the injured students."
At least seven ambulances and a number of fire brigades attended the scene, along with gardaí.
An Air Corps helicopter, operating the emergency air medical service, was along dispatched from Athlone to the crash site but no-one was airlifted.
The road between Herbertstown and Caherline was closed following the accident and it was expected to remain shut to traffic for a number of hours.
A statement from the HSE said 20 casualties were taken to University Hospital Limerick, 18 children and two adults.
Seven were transported in ambulances, those with less severe injuries by minibus and intermediate care vehicles.
The resuscitation and paediatric areas of the hospital's emergency department were cleared in anticipation of casualties.
Operating theatres were put on standby and additional surgical teams drafted in. Members of the public were urged not to attend the emergency department unless absolutely necessary.