Dorchester college bus carrying 56 students crashes

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Media captionThe First-operated bus was heading for Kingston Maurward College

A college bus carrying 56 pupils has crashed and rolled into a field in Dorset, injuring seven people including the driver.

The double-decker was travelling from Kinson in Bournemouth when it crashed on the A350 near Poole at 08:15 BST.

It was heading for Kingston Maurward College, Dorchester.

Operator First, which is investigating with police, said the driver was being monitored by a colleague as part of a process of learning the route.

But the company stressed the driver, who is fully trained and qualified, had driven the route previously.

Of the 56 pupils on board, who were all aged between 16 and 18, seven were taken to Poole General Hospital, as well as the driver, a Dorset Police spokesman said.

All those taken to hospital were discharged at about 14:00 BST. The force said a total of 30 passengers suffered minor injuries.

Up to 15 firefighters worked at the scene for nearly 90 minutes, a Dorset Fire Service spokesman said.

The road had reopened by the evening rush hour and temporary traffic lights put in place to control the flow of traffic.

'Through hedge'

Insp Neil Leat, from Dorset Police, said: "I'm surprised that no-one has been seriously injured in this.

"[The students] were in very good spirits, very helpful, obviously quite shocked about what's gone on, but they were assisting us and they were assisting their fellow pupils which was really great to see.

"[The bus] went through a hedge into a field... quite an incredible sight, not one that we would certainly see on a regular basis."

Image caption Students who were not injured were taken to a police station

Insp Leat said a thorough investigation would be carried out into the cause of the crash.

Students who were not injured were taken to Gravel Hill police station in Poole, a spokeswoman from the college said.

Jeff Parker, 65, from nearby Huntick Farm in Lytchett Matravers, Dorset, said: "It's quite a rural area. The only reason we were aware of it was that we heard sirens.

"We also heard the police helicopter.

"I've been here four years. To be honest, there are always accidents on the A350."

A First Hampshire and Dorset spokesman confirmed the driver was not injured but was being treated for shock.

Kingston Maurward College principal Clare Davison said: "'We have set up a team at the college and we are liaising directly with the emergency services.

"'We will also be offering additional support to the students involved."

She said staff had contacted all parents and guardians of those students affected, all of whom are aged between 16 and 18.

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