A school bus carrying 32 people, including 27 schoolgirls, collided with a truck before rolling down an embankment north of Melbourne and flipped on its side.
The accident took place on Victoria’s Western Highway at the Victorian town of Bacchus Marsh at about 3:15 a.m. on Wednesday.
The bus was taking students from years nine to 12 from Loreto College Ballarat to Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne for a trip to the U.S. at a NASA space camp.
Footage of the incident showed broken windows and luggage falling on the ground.
Passengers have been rushed to six different hospitals and are alive.
Two teenage girls, two adults and a male truck driver were seriously injured, while the other 18 people are in stable conditions, according to Ambulance Victoria.
Investigators will examine the crash site on Melbourne-bound highway lanes which will be closed for the rest of the day.
Loreto College Ballarat confirmed the accident in a statement on Wednesday afternoon, saying emergency service co-ordinated the care and support for students and staff.
“The college is very appreciative of the quick and professional response of the emergency services personnel at the scene and very grateful to Grampians Health for their ongoing support,” the school wrote.
“Our caring Loreto community has deep concern for the injured and their families and we ask for their privacy to be respected.”
Victoria Police Detective Inspector Roger Schranz said the crash “must have been horrific for the students, but just as horrific for their parents.”
“The truck has come around the corner and headed down towards the hill, it’s seen the speed reduction [from the earlier crash] and the banked up traffic and collided with the bus, forcing the bus off the left-hand side of the freeway down the cliff.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Wednesday said the images and reports of the crash are “shocking.”
“My thoughts go out to the students, teachers and drivers affected, and the whole Ballrat community,” he tweeted.
“I’ve spoken with Loreto College’s Principal and we’ll give the school community all the support they need.”
Witnesses of the crash are being asked to contact Crime Stoppers.