At least 13 children have been killed and eight more injured after a speeding train crashed into a school van this morning at an unmanned crossing in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar, around 50 km from Gorakhpur.
Around 7 am, the van of Divine Public School, carrying nearly 25 students, passed through the crossing and reportedly stalled on the tracks when it was hit by the train. An official said 13 children were killed on the spot and seven are critically injured. The wounded children and staff were taken to a hospital around 30 km from the site.
I am told that the school van driver was wearing earphones while driving. this is a case of pure negligence,” said CM Yogi Adityanath
The train was on its way to Gorakhpur from Siwan. The official claimed that a “Gate Mitra (friend)” – a person who alerts commuters about approaching trains at unmanned crossings – tried to stop the van but it was too late.
“I am told that the school van driver was wearing earphones while driving… this is a case of pure negligence,” said Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who rushed to the crash site to take stock of the situation.
“An inquiry has been ordered and based on the investigation, the guilty will face the most severe punishment,” the chief minister said. The vehicle mostly had children below 10, he said. A huge crowd has gathered around the yellow van, which was badly smashed on impact. An accident relief medical train from Gorakhpur, the home base of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, has been sent to the crash site, he said. Yogi Adityanath has ordered top officials of Gorakhpur to inquire into the accident.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were among those who tweeted expressing grief over the accident
“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 will take appropriate action,” PM Modi said, while interacting with the Karnataka BJP workers through the NaMo App.
Nearly 15,000 people die on the country’s railways every year
India is home to hundreds of railway crossings that are unmanned and particularly accident prone, with motorists often ignoring oncoming train warnings. Nearly 15,000 people die on the country’s railways every year, according to a 2012 government report. The government has vowed to upgrade unattended railway crossings next year to reduce fatal accidents.
The Chief Minister has also announced compensation of Rs. 2 lakh for the families of the children
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on 26 April rushed to Kushinagar and met the families of the victims killed in a major bus accident
The Chief Minister said strict action would be taken against those found guilty while adding that the driver of the van, prima facie, appears to have caused the accident as he was wearing earphones at the time. He also raised questions over the age of the driver. “I spoke to the Rail Minister this morning. Prima facie, it appears to be the fault of the van driver. He was driving with his ear-phones. Even things have come forward regarding his age,” Adityanath said.
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