At least 18 persons were killed and 19 others injured on Wednesday when a private bus collided with a milk tanker in the Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh, ANI reported.

“Today at around 05.15 am, a private bus coming from Motihari, Bihar, collided with a milk tanker,” Unnao District Magistrate Gaurang Rathi said, reported PTI.

Initial reports suggest that the bus, which was on its way to Delhi, was speeding and hit the milk tanker from behind on the Agra-Lucknow expressway. An investigation has been launched into the accident, Rathi added.

Both the bus and the milk tanker overturned because of the impact of the collision, Bangarmau Circle Officer Arvind Kumar told PTI. He added that the drivers of the two vehicles were among those killed.

The injured were taken to hospital and their condition was stable, Kumar said.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath said that district administration officials have been instructed to go to the spot and speed up the relief work.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 2 lakh for the families of those who died. The injured persons will be given Rs 50,000 each.

“Under the supervision of the state government, the local administration is engaged in helping the victims in every possible way,” the prime minister’s office said in a post on X.

Samajwadi Party chief and Lok Sabha MP from the state Akhilesh Yadav alleged that the accident was caused by the negligence of the BJP government.

“Despite there being a dedicated parking zone on the expressway, why was a vehicle parked in the middle of the road?” the former chief minister asked. “How did the monitoring of the parked vehicle go wrong despite the presence of CCTV cameras? Were the CCTV cameras not working?”

The legislator from Kannauj also asked if the highway police was on its regular patrolling at the time of the accident.

“How long did the Highway Ambulance Service take to arrive after the accident and what was its role in relation to the casualties?” he asked.