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Tragic Bus Accident Claims 54 Lives

Most of the Dead - School Girls Returning from a Bali Holiday.

(10/13/2003) An estimated 54 people perished in a tragic bus accident near the East Java city of Situbundo on Thursday, October 9, 2003.

49 of the dead were young school-aged girls from a Yogyakarta, Central Java high school returning from a 3-day school holiday in Bali.

The accident apparently occurred when the bus slammed into the back of a semi-trailer that had lost power and was rolling backwards down a hill. The bus struck the back of the truck before itself being struck from behind by a local produce truck. The collision ignited the truck's fuel tanks causing flames to engulf the bus, trapping the school children inside.

The horrific crash and its aftermath were witnessed by other members of the 130 school group traveling on two other busses.

Police continue to investigate the crash, including interviewing the drivers of the bus and truck who survived the collision.