At least seven female junior high-school students and two others were killed and dozens severely wounded after their bus overturned in southern Iran.
The bus was carrying 45 mostly junior high school students from Bandar Abbas, Hormozgan Province, to the city of Shiraz in Fars Province, according to Nader Rahmani, a senior traffic police official.
Hassan Nouri, an emergency official, told ISNA that seven schoolgirls, a female instructor, and a male assistant driver have lost their lives so far.
34 wounded girls were transferred to a hospital in Darab, and five others were taken to Shiraz hospital with a chopper, he added.
Nouri said two of those injured have lost one of their organs. Four others also sustained spinal cord injuries.
The elite schoolgirls were planning to attend a national conference of talented students in the city of Shiraz.
According to officials, initial investigations indicate the crash was caused by the exhaustion and sleepiness of the bus driver, who is now under arrest.
Following the incident, the governor of Hormozgan province declared one day of mourning in the province, and several top Iranian officials offered condolences.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was one of the authorities who expressed sympathy over the incident, saying, “It was a source of deep sorrow and grief to hear the sad news of the bus crash in which many of our dear students and children and the country’s scientific assets were killed and wounded.”
“I offer my condolences to the bereaved families of these dear students and the people of Hormozgan province, and deeply sympathize with them,” he added in his Saturday message.
The Iranian top diplomat also wished patience and blessing for the victims’ families and speedy recovery for those wounded in the painful incident.