At least 43 people were injured, some in critical condition and undergoing surgery in local hospitals. “Everybody was injured,” Mr Murphy said to CNN.
An unknown number of children were on the school bus at the time of the 10am crash, state police said. The crash tore the undercarriage of the bus off completely and left it demolished, lying in the median of Route 80 in Mount Olive Township, New Jersey, according to a local NBC News station. The undercarriage and its parts are spread out along the highway.
The scene of the accident was full of police vehicles and ambulances, tending to children in shock and possibly injured. The full extent of their injuries is not known at this time. At least one person was taken to St Joseph Medical Centre in Paterson, New Jersey, while several others were reportedly taken to nearby Hackettstown Medical Centre.
Mount Olive Township Mayor Rob Greenbaum said the bus was from the Paramus Board of Education, another city in New Jersey. A source told NBC News that the bus could have been coming from East Brook Middle School in Paramus, which has 650 students in fifth through eighth grades. The school has not yet responded to a request for comment.
The students were taking a field trip to a local historical site called Waterloo Village, a restored 19th century canal town and nature walk.
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“There’s an incredible emergency response from throughout Morris County and by State Police. It’s a horrific scene,” Mr Greenbaum said to USA Today. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who went to the school, said his heart is “broken” over the “tragedy”.
The highway has been shut down for the time being. Mount Olive Township is approximately 50 miles west of New York City.
The National Transportation Safety Board says it’s not investigating the crash. Schools in Bergen County will be open tomorrow and counselling will be provided to students according to Dr Michelle Robinson, who said: “We are devastated by today’s events. We are coming together as a community. We will ensure that students coming tomorrow are treated with a crisis team so that we can lend support to our students and our families in Paramus”.