17 school students killed in Indonesian road accident

MEDAN, Indonesia (AFP) - Seventeen Indonesian pupils were killed and five others injured on Thursday after a truck carrying them to school overturned into a ditch on western Sumatra island, police said.

The truck carrying around 30 students flipped over into the muddy ditch near a palm oil plantation after one of its wheels came off, local police official M Syafii said.

The age of the students involved in the accident in Tapanuli district was not clear. Most were thought to attend junior high school and high school, where pupils are typically aged between 12 and 18.

"Seventeen students were killed and five were injured, including one seriously, after the truck overturned," said Syafii.

"One of the front wheels of the truck came off, causing it to overturn and roll into a ditch full of mud, about 2.5 metres deep." The driver survived, he added.

Fatal accidents are common on Indonesia's poorly maintained roads. There is little public transport in rural Indonesia and it is common for people to hitch lifts on trucks.

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