Regional authorities are to radically increase safety inspections on coaches used in school excursions, under a directive issued yesterday by Transport Minister Michalis Liapis. The decision came at the height of the school excursion season, and just over a year after the April 13, 2003 accident in which 21 teenage schoolchildren died when a load of plywood came off a lorry and sliced through their coach in the Vale of Tempe. Liapis instructed prefectural authorities to carry out at least one unscheduled inspection for every school excursion, to check the condition of coaches’ tires and whether the vehicles are fitted with seat belts – and if the passengers are wearing them – as well as to ensure that the drivers are not working excessively long shifts. On March 28, 21 people were hurt when a bus carrying 63 high school pupils and four teachers crashed near the town of Amfilochia in western Greece after a tire burst. The driver had been speeding.