A dump truck carrying children of plantation workers to school Thursday morning plunged into a ditch in western Indonesia, killing 17 of them, police said.

Local traffic police Capt. M. Syafei said five other students were hurt in the crash near a palm oil plantation in Tapanuli Tengah District in North Sumatra province.

Most of the about 50 passengers were students. The victims were between 12 and 17 years old.

Syafei said the truck crashed into the two-meter ditch after one of its wheels was loosened. He said the truck driver survived and was being questioned as a suspect.

Acting district chief Syukran Jamilan Tanjung said the preliminary investigation found that the truck was not roadworthy.

Transporting people in vehicles like dump trucks is prohibited in Indonesia, but is common in rural areas.

Tanjung urged police to question the plantation owner over possible negligence in the services provided for children of its workers.