A 14-year-old girl and a bus driver have died following a motorway crash involving a school coach.
Emergency services were called on Friday shortly after 8am to reports of an overturned coach on the northbound M53 near to junction five at Hooton, Cheshire.
Merseyside Police said a total of 58 people were involved in the incident including the two fatalities.
Two children were taken to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital with serious injuries and another two casualties were treated at Wirral’s Arrowe Park Hospital.
Others involved in the incident were treated at an emergency training centre in Wallasey, with 13 treated for minor injuries before they were released.
Joanne Clague, area director for North West Ambulance Service, offered the service’s condolences to all those involved.
Ms Clague said: “Following reports of a crash involving a coach this morning, we declared a major incident. This was due to the potential number of casualties involved.
“As a result we sent a substantial number of ambulances, senior clinicians and our hazardous area response teams.
“I would like to thank our emergency service colleagues for their support in ensuring the scene was safe so we were able to identify the most seriously injured first whilst safeguarding all those involved in the incident.”
Two fire engines attended as Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service assisted in the response.
The bus was en route to West Kirby all-girls grammar school and Calday Grange all-boys grammar school, also in West Kirby, Merseyside.
Chief Superintendent Graeme Robson, of Merseyside Police, said: “Family liaison officers are providing specialist support to both families and we are working with both schools and Wirral and Cheshire West councils to ensure the necessary trauma support is in place for the children on the bus.
“We also know that other children from both schools were on buses travelling in convoy with the bus involved in the incident and witnessed the incident. They too will be provided with appropriate trauma support.”
National Highways North West said: “North West Motorway Police Group will be carrying out complex investigation work. Once complete, recovery of the coach and collision clear-up work can begin.”
Merseyside Police said junctions 3-5 of the M53 are expected to remain closed in both directions for a “considerable time”.
Anyone with information about the collision should call the Matrix Serious Collision Investigation Unit on (0151) 777 5747 or SCIU@merseyside.police.uk or contact @MerPolCC on Twitter or Merseyside Police Contact Centre on Facebook quoting reference 23000944471