Train Hits School Bus at India Crossing, Killing 13 Children

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Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Kushinagar district, Akhilesh Kumar told IANS that one child and the driver of the van were in critical condition.

Thirteen children were killed and eight others injured when a train rammed into their school van at an unmanned railway crossing in Kushinagar, around 50 km from Gorakhpur.

A railroad guard posted at the ungated crossing signaled for the van to stop but the driver, who was also killed in the crash, ignored the signal and crashed into the train.

President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were among those who tweeted expressing grief over the accident.

Gorakhpur Divisional Commissioner Anil Kumar has been asked to probe the incident.

Police said as per an eyewitness, the driver of the van failed to hear the whistle of the oncoming train as he had put on ear plugs to hear music.

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On being informed about the tragedy, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath flew off to Kushinagar and visited the site. There were at least 25 passengers, including children who were below the age of 10, in the van, the official said.

The chief minister additionally ordered an inquiry against the Seth Bansidhar School, which would allegedly issue transfer certificates to students enrolled at the school.

In September 2017, minister Piyush Goyal had said all unmanned crossings would be removed "within a year". The chief minister was visiting the accident spot where he was met with angry protesters shouting slogans against the railway and local administration. The level crossing was described as "unmanned", with no barrier to stop road traffic. A similar amount was announced as compensation to the deceased' families by the Indian Railways. After being briefed by officials, Yogi conveyed his condolences to the victims' families and announced ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the families.

The railway ministry hoped that within 2020 most of the unmanned crossings will be eliminated.

After inspecting the site, Adityanath had said that prima facie the van driver appeared to be at fault. He said the State Government will take strict action against those found responsible for the laxity.