Thirteen children were killed and eight were injured when their school van collided with a train in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar district on Thursday morning, PTI reported. The incident took place at an unmanned railway crossing around 50 km from Gorakhpur.
A railway spokesperson said that a volunteer deployed at the crossing had tried to stop the van but its driver allegedly ignored him and the whistle of the oncoming Thawe-Kapatanganj passenger train.
There were at least 25 passengers, including children below the age of 10, in the vehicle, the spokesperson said. An accident relief medical train was sent from Gorakhpur to the site, he added.
North Eastern Railways Chief Public Relations Officer Sanjay Yadav said that the van driver ignored the volunteer’s warning as he was running late in getting the children to school, the Hindustan Times reported.
Uttar Pradesh Police detained the principal of the Divine Public School, ANI reported.
Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani said the Indian Railways was trying to eliminate unmanned crossings, ANI reported. He said people need to be careful at unmanned railway crossings.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind and Chief Minister Adityanath have expressed their condolences. “I am extremely saddened on hearing about the death of the students in a collision between a school van and a train in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar. The Uttar Pradesh government and railway dept will take appropriate action.”
Adityanath, who visited the site, declared an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the families of the children who died. He also asked local authorities to start an inquiry into the cause of the accident. Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal announced a separate compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the families.