EIGHT CHILDREN, most of them not older than 10, were killed and eight others seriously injured when the van carrying them to school was hit by a passenger train at an unmanned railway crossing in Aurai area of Bhadohi district, in eastern UP, early Monday.
The van of Tender Heart English School in Ghosia town, carrying students of six villages in the age group of six to 14 years, was hit by a Varanasi-Allahabad passenger train at gate number 26, between Katka and Madhosingh stations. Such was the impact of the crash that the van was thrown up several feet in the air and landed in a field, the police said.
Six of the eight injured children and the van driver, Rashid Khan, are stated to be critical.
Administration and railway officials indicated that the accident occurred due to Khan’s negligence. They claimed he had a headphone on and did not listen to the railway guard posted at the crossing who had asked him to stop. “A ‘gate mitra’ (friend at the gate) tried to stop the van, but the driver ignored the warning, resulting in the tragic incident,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said.
Bhadohi District Magistrate Prakash Bindu said the van was carrying 19 people, mostly children, from Kaiyarmau
village to Ghosia town — about 5 km away. “At the unmanned crossing near the village, the driver did not stop even though other vehicles were waiting for the train to pass…. Some of the children (in the van) told me they shouted but the driver did not listen,” he added.
Within seconds, the van was hit by the Allahabad-bound train.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh to families of the deceased and free
treatment for the injured. The Railways has also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of those killed, Rs 1 lakh for the seriously injured and Rs 20,000 for those with minor injuries.