A school bus plunged into Parvathiputhanar at Channankara near here on Monday killing three children.

The mini bus was carrying about 25 children from the Jyothinilayam School at Kazkookottam. Most of the children either swam to safety or were saved by local people. Search is still on for missing children, if any. The government has sought the help of the navy for the search, and navy personnel are expected to arrive at the site shortly.

Eight children were admitted to the SAT hospital here with injuries. Others were cared for at a local hospital at Kazhakootttam, about 12 km from the city centre.

The accident occurred around 4 p.m. when the children were returning from school on a bus belonging to the BPM UPS School. Local residents undertook the initial rescue operation immediately and saved about 10 children. Fire and Rescue Service personnel and the police joined them soon.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Revenue Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan and Education Minister Abdu Rubb visited the accident site.

PTI adds:

While most of the children were rescued by locals who gathered at the spot, two boys aged 10 and 14 died at a hospital.

The condition of most of the children, shifted to different hospitals, was stable, sources said.

The mishap occurred at Channankara, 25 km from Thiruvananthapuram, off a national highway, when the school bus was carrying the students back home through a narrow road along the banks of a branch canal of Parvathy Puthanar river.

The road had no sidewall. The exact cause of the accident was yet to be established but the driver denied he was over-speeding.

Eyewitnesses said a major tragedy was averted as locals, familiar with the canal, plunged into rescue work instantly and brought ashore most of the children within minutes