Five people - including three schoolkids - were rushed to hospital and several other youngsters were injured when a double decker bus ploughed into a shop in Chingford.
Horrified local residents said they heard a “huge bang” before racing to the aid of the traumatised casualties, mostly schoolchildren.
A young girl suffered “severe injuries” after falling from the top of the stairs.
The girl, believed to be aged around 11 or 12, is said to be a Highams Park secondary school student who was just about to get off the bus as it crashed.
Another girl is also said to have been severely injured, according to eyewitnesses.
Nineteen people who were on board the 212 bus were being assessed by paramedics at the scene in Highams Park, Waltham Forest, following the sickening crash at around 8am this morning.
Witnesses claimed the driver was taken ill at the wheel immediately before the crash.
Emergency services were called to the scene after the incident on Selwyn Avenue, in Chingford.
“It was like something out of a film, hearing a bang or an explosion.
“I think I was the first person to call 999 so they wanted me to stay on the line with them until [emergency services] arrived.
“The bus was full of kids on their way to Highams Park school, it’s only around the corner. I’m sure a lot of them would have gotten off on that stop.
“I was told one of the young girls was injured because she fell down the stairs when the crash happened.
“She was just about to get off the bus, it’s where they all get off. She wasn’t doing anything wrong.”
Eric Garip, 38, who runs The Corner Cafe nearby, said he rushed to the scene when he heard the bus crash about 25 metres away.
He said: “We heard a very big bang.
“I just ran to them and tried to open the back doors.
“I opened the front door, that didn’t open either until someone else tried to open it from the inside.
“There was one near the bus drive not moving at all, and another one up the stairs, the two girls were the main injured ones.
“There were around Year 7 or Year 8 kids. I then went to the bus driver and he said he couldn’t come out: ‘I’m squashed. I can’t move my foot.’
“I went back to the kid who was injured and the mum was injured. I was slowly helping them out and take them outside.
“The kids were all scared, crying panicking. The parents were panicked. I said come outside, it’s safe, and slowly all the kids and parents left the bus. A few adults came and helped as well.
“I’m just worried about the two kids in hospital. We don’t know whether they’ll be okay or not.
“The driver was okay. He was obviously panicked and shocked.”
Phil Grundy, headteacher at Highams Park School, said: “Many of you may be aware of a traffic incident involving a bus on The Broadway in Highams Park this morning.
“Some of our students were on the bus and any who were injured have been receiving medical care.
“The parents of all students who were injured have been contacted, students who were witnesses to the scene are also getting emotional support at school.
“We are working closely with the emergency services and have our staff on the scene.
“We will inform parents of any further developments.”
A London Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We sent a number of resources to the scene of this incident in Highams Park this morning.
“Working with our emergency service colleagues we treated and assessed 19 people at the scene. Of those 19, we took five people to hospital: three children and two adults.”
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “At approximately 8.20am on Tuesday January 25 police were called to reports of a bus in collision with a shop in Selwyn Avenue.
“Officers and London Ambulance Service are on scene. A number of people have reported suffering injuries and are being treated at the scene.
“Road closures remain in place around the junction of Selwyn Avenue and Winchester Road.
“Inquiries into the circumstances remain ongoing.”
Waltham Forest Council added: “We’re getting information about a traffic incident on Selwyn Avenue #Chingford involving a bus.
“Emergency services are on the scene - please be patient if you are in the area. We will share more info as and when it arrives.”