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More than a dozen students were sent to hospital, five in critical condition, after a school bus and a truck-mounted crane collided on an Alberta highway.

The crash happened at about 8:30 a.m. local time Monday near Smoky Lake, about 115 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, RCMP said.

The driver of the crane was taken to hospital with minor injuries and a passenger in the vehicle was not injured, police said.

STARS, Alberta’s air ambulance, said one student was airlifted from the scene to an Edmonton hospital. Two others in critical condition were later transferred by air to receive treatment in the city.

A physician from its Edmonton base was sent to the local hospital to help triage, STARS added.

Alberta Health Services said that patients were reassessed and an additional two children were transported by ground ambulance in critical condition to Edmonton.

An adult and a child were also transported by ground in serious but stable condition, and another patient was sent to hospital in Edmonton in stable condition.

Ross Hunter, a spokesman for Aspen View Public Schools, said 14 students were on the bus at the time of the collision, plus the bus driver.

Hunter said a second bus dispatched to the scene transported students and the driver to the Smoky Lake Healthcare Centre for further assessment.

“Families of all students involved in the collision have been notified,” Hunter said in a statement Monday. “Supports for students and staff are in place at H.A. Kostash School.”

RCMP said Redwater Victim Services is also assisting.

“An incident of this nature is the fear of every parent in rural Alberta who puts their child on a school bus each morning,” Candyce Nikipelo, chairwoman of the school division’s board of trustees said in a statement.

“The hearts of families throughout Aspen View and rural Alberta go out to those involved.”

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