A school bus was slowing down to avoid an accident when a truck rear-ended it on the Western Freeway at Bacchus Marsh in Melbourne’s west on Wednesday.
The bus was carrying four adults and 27 students aged nine to 11 from Ballarat’s Loreto College to the airport for the trip.
VicRoads was clearing up an accident overnight when a lorry collided with a bus, police said.
“By a miracle, they pulled themselves out and some people, I believe the truck drivers, stopped to help them,” Detective Inspector Roger Schranz told reporters on Wednesday.
“I would have thought that someone had died in this whole tragedy. So they are all lucky people.”
The two teenage girls were airlifted to the Royal Children’s Hospital in a serious but stable condition.
A woman in her 40s and a man in his 50s were taken to Royal Melbourne in a serious but stable condition.
18 others were taken to different hospitals in stable condition.
The police will investigate whether drugs, alcohol or speed were the cause of the accident.
Melbourne-bound lanes are expected to be closed throughout the day as investigators analyze the area.
Parents of the students have been asked to stay away from the accident and contact Ballarat Police Station.
In a statement, the school thanked emergency services for coordinating care and providing triage at the scene.
“Our caring Loreto community is deeply concerned about those injured and their families and we ask that their privacy be respected,” it said.
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