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PA issues findings on deadly school bus crash

March 14, 2012 5:46 P.M. (Updated: March 17, 2012 10:34 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday approved the report of a ministerial investigation committee into a deadly school bus crash last month.

Six elementary school children and a teacher were killed when the vehicle collided with a truck near the Jaba checkpoint north of Jerusalem on Feb. 16.

The crash, which wounded another 39 people, caused shock waves in the West Bank, and the PA tasked a committee headed by the foreign minister to investigate.

At its Wednesday meeting, the government praised the Palestinian emergency response to the crash, and the "heroic role" of the school teacher who died. She "insisted on saving the victims when the bus caught on fire," the Palestinian Government Media Center said.

The investigation report recommends that the government create special lanes for emergency vehicles, and separate two-way highways with a cement barrier despite Israeli objections, according to the PGMC.

It calls to reactivate a proposal for a joint operations room including the Red Crescent, Ministry of Health and Civil Defense, and set up a civil defense and medical emergency center in the adjacent town of Al-Ram, despite "Israeli obstacles," the media office said.

Israel's military checkpoint at al-Jaba should be removed, the committee said, as it causes traffic chaos and delays the arrival of emergency teams at the scene of an accident.

Further, measures must be taken to ease traffic at the Qalandiya checkpoint next to Jaba, a bottleneck road link between the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Coordination of hospital transfers in large emergencies is also a priority, the report said.
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