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FIJI TIMES ONLINE - By THERESA RALOGAIVAU Wednesday, May 06, 2009
(Thanks to Koro for emailing story through to us)

Elliot Rota with relatives at Labasa Hospital yesterday
A TWELVE-year-old is nursing serious head injuries, while an iron rod impaled another, and about 20 other students were treated for shock and abrasions when the truck they were travelling in tumbled down a steep slope on Rabi Island. More than 20 students from Buakonikai Primary School and Rabi High School were on their way home to Buakonikai Village last week when the accident happened.

Elliot Rota, 12, was pulled out unconscious from underneath the overturned truck and was rushed to Labasa Hospital with serious head injuries. His aunt Helen Rota said he was happy to be alive.

"When he woke up he was asking us where he was and what happened to him," she said.

Elliot said he remembered little of the incident except the screams of terrified children.

The truck was approaching Kiribati hill near Buakonikai when it developed mechanical problems, tumbled several times down a slope.

Islanders were working on turning the truck upright where it was stuck at the bottom of the slope when the Fiji Times called the island yesterday.

"Some were thrown out of the vehicle but suffered only small cuts and when they walked back up the slope they realised that Elliot was missing so they went back to look for him and found him underneath the truck," Ms Rota said.

Most of the students were treated at the island's health centre.

A metal rod from the damaged vehicle impaled Riti Hugill, 16, in the thigh and she was taken to Savusavu Hospital where doctors successfully removed the iron rod.

The accident happened around 7pm. Rabi Island Council executive director Molly Amon said they were investigating the cause of the accident.

"Police are also doing their own investigation and so are we and what we have gathered is that driver lost control of the vehicle, the reason for that is still being determined," she said.

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