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Irish driver dead as bus carrying 34 English children crashes in Belgium

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A rescue services worker carries students' backpacks at the site where a bus carrying 34 British schoolchildren crashed off the E40 highway in Middelkerke, Belgium. AFP PHOTO / BELGA / NICOLAS MAETERLINCK.

A rescue services worker carries students' backpacks at the site where a bus carrying 34 British schoolchildren crashed off the E40 highway in Middelkerke, Belgium. AFP PHOTO / BELGA / NICOLAS MAETERLINCK.

Rescuers stand next to a British bus, transporting 34 children and which overturned and crashed on a motorway, near the city of Middelkerke Belgium, June 28, 2015. A British bus with 34 children on board overturned and crashed on a motorway in Belgium on Sunday morning, killing a driver, a local mayor said. None of children nor six accompanying adults were seriously injured in the accident, which happened when the driver lost control of the vehicle on a stretch of the E40 motorway near the Belgian coast.   REUTERS/Dominique Jauquet   

ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. BELGIUM OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN BELGIUM

Rescuers stand next to a British bus, transporting 34 children and which overturned and crashed on a motorway, near the city of Middelkerke Belgium, June 28, 2015. A British bus with 34 children on board overturned and crashed on a motorway in Belgium on Sunday morning, killing a driver, a local mayor said. None of children nor six accompanying adults were seriously injured in the accident, which happened when the driver lost control of the vehicle on a stretch of the E40 motorway near the Belgian coast. REUTERS/Dominique Jauquet ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. BELGIUM OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN BELGIUM

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A rescue services worker carries students' backpacks at the site where a bus carrying 34 British schoolchildren crashed off the E40 highway in Middelkerke, Belgium. AFP PHOTO / BELGA / NICOLAS MAETERLINCK.

A bus driver from Northern Ireland has died after a coach carrying English school children crashed on a motorway in Belgium.

The bus, which belongs to Lisburn firm Richmond Coaches, crashed shortly before 9am UK time on Sunday near Middelkerke, in West Flanders.

It was carrying 34 pupils and six teachers from Brentwood School in Essex along with two drivers from Northern Ireland.

It's understood that the children were all aged between 11 and 13 and were on their way to a theme park in the German city of Cologne.

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Fire and rescue vehicles line a highway as they attend to the Richmond Coach's bus which crashed on a motorway in Middlekerke, Belgium on Sunday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Fire and rescue vehicles line a highway as they attend to the Richmond Coach's bus which crashed on a motorway in Middlekerke, Belgium on Sunday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

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A police officer points to the underside of a bus as he attends to the scene of the crash on a motorway in Middlekerke, Belgium on Sunday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

A police officer points to the underside of a bus as he attends to the scene of the crash on a motorway in Middlekerke, Belgium on Sunday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

"One driver has been killed, the other is seriously injured in the accident. Some of the children with light injuries have been taken to local medical centre," Janna Rommel-Opstaele, the mayor of the nearby coastal town of Middelkerke, told Reuters.

It's understood one of the children is currently receiving treatment in intensive care for serious head injuries; two teachers and three pupils are also believed to be in hospital.

Pictures from the scene show the coach lying on its side on a grass verge along the E40 motorway after it overturned following a collision with a motorway bridge support pillar.

A spokesman for Richmond Coaches, said: “The children are all okay.”

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Bus belonging to Lisburn firm Richmond Coaches which crashed in Belgium while carrying 34 English school children. Twitter/Klass Danneel.

Bus belonging to Lisburn firm Richmond Coaches which crashed in Belgium while carrying 34 English school children. Twitter/Klass Danneel.

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A rescue services worker carries students' backpacks at the site where a bus carrying 34 British schoolchildren crashed off the E40 highway in Middelkerke, Belgium. AFP PHOTO / BELGA / NICOLAS MAETERLINCK.

A rescue services worker carries students' backpacks at the site where a bus carrying 34 British schoolchildren crashed off the E40 highway in Middelkerke, Belgium. AFP PHOTO / BELGA / NICOLAS MAETERLINCK.

He said they were from “a school from England” but declined to identify which one.

“I can confirm it as one of our vehicles. We are working with all the authorities and our thoughts are with anybody who was involved,” he added.

More to follow...

Belfast Telegraph