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ASHGABAT -- At least 10 schoolchildren, a teacher, and a bus driver died when their minibus fell into the Karakum canal in Turkmenistan's southern Akhal Province last week, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

The accident was not reported by the domestic media, which is state controlled.

The minibus was driving to the Archman Resort Center to celebrate the first day of the Islamic holiday Eid al-Adha (Kurban Bayram). President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov had been scheduled to appear.

The Turkmen government has prohibited its citizens from going to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the hajj this year because of the swine flu epidemic.

The government has instead offered Turkmen citizens the chance to make an "internal hajj" to holy places in Turkmenistan.

Schoolchildren and university students in Turkmenistan are often obliged to take part in government-organized events.