11 children have been killed and 7 injured in a traffic accident after a train crashed into a school bus at a railway crossing in Kushinagar, India. The bus driver also died in the collision.
Students of Divine Public School met with an timely fate at an unmanned railway crossing when a train crashed into their school bus. The incident took place at 6:45 a.m. on April 26 in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar, a town 125 miles southeast of Lucknow. The bus was carrying 18 children and the total death toll is at 12 as of now (11 children and 1 adult). Police fear the death toll may increase.
The students were all on their way to school after being picked up from their respective villages by the school bus. The railway crossing where the incident took place had a gate mitra (volunteer manning the crossing), who tried to stop the accident but failed. The Director General of police reportedly said the driver of the school bus had earphones on when the accident took place.
While some children were killed on the spot, others succumbed to injuries later at the hospital. Ambulances took the injured passengers to Pandrauna hospital. Uttar Pradesh CM, Yogi Adityanath, inspected the site of the accident and later visited the injured children at the hospital.
India has one of the largest railroad networks in the world, with 23 million people riding daily on approximately 11,000 passenger trains. Unmanned crossings that lack gates are common in rural India due to poor financing, and are a very obvious safety hazard.
Adityanath told India Today that based on the first impression, the accident appeared to be the bus driver’s fault. He said, “He had earphones on, and there are questions regarding his age as well. There are rules in place, an inquiry will be conducted as to why they were not follow. Strict action will be taken.”
Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, spoke about the incident to ANI: “I am extremely saddened on hearing about the death of 11 school students in a collision between a school van and a train in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar. The Uttar Pradesh government and railway department will take appropriate action.”
Indian journalist and author, Bhupendra Chaubey, took to Twitter to comment on the incident. He said, “Indian railways is crying out for reform. We have an able minister like @PiyushGoyal in charge. Need to fix the problem of manned/unmanned rail crossings across India. Kushinagar deaths of children must wake up authorities and get them to work faster.”
The Union Minister of Railways & Coal, Shri Piyush Goyal, announced that an ex Gratia payment of 2 lac Indian Rupees (INR) ($2997) will be paid to the families of the 11 children killed in the accident. 1 lac INR ($1499) will be given to those with serious injuries, and 50,000 INR ($749) to those with simple injuries.