|Police said there was no suspicion of foul play and that slick roads had caused the collision [Reuters]
At least five Palestinian children and a teacher have been killed after truck lost control in slick, rainy weather and barrelled into their school bus, officials say.
The bus left the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on a school excursion but turned back due to heavy rains and stormy weather, according to Palestinian police spokesman Yousif Osrael. On the way back, a truck careened into the school bus, causing it to flip and catch fire, Osrael said. The children killed were aged four to six.
The accident happened in the central West Bank, in an area Palestinians claim as their future state but where Israel has full control. Both Israeli and Palestinian rescuers arrived at the scene, and evacuated at least 30 injured passengers to hospitals in Ramallah and Jerusalem, according to Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
The truck driver was an Arab Israeli and all the victims were Palestinian, Rosenfeld said. Israeli and Palestinian police are investigating the accident. But Rosenfeld said there is no suspicion of foul play and it was likely that the wintry weather and slick roads caused the collision.
After the accident, Palestinians rushed to the Ramallah Medical Compound hospital to check on their children and donate blood. Hundreds of people flocked to the hospital in an outpouring of grief.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning and ordered flags flown at half-staff.
"It was a tragedy," Abbas said outside the hospital. "It was God's fate. There was rain and fog and that is what happened."
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu offered his condolences and pledged to give any aid necessary to the Palestinian Authority.