14 school kids killed at unmanned crossing
SIXTEEN persons -- 14 school children, the driver and the cleaner -- were killed and at least 20 students were injured as a train crashed into the private bus in which they were travelling at an unmanned railway crossing at Masaipet village in Telangana's Medak district this morning.
The driver's decision to avoid nearby manned railway gates to take a shorter route, and failure to spot the oncoming Nanded-Secunderabad passenger train while crossing, were blamed for the mishap which took place between Masaipet and Wadiaram stations on Secunderabad-Nizamabad section.
The bus, being driven by another driver as the regular one was on leave, was carrying about 40 students of a private school at Toopran in the district.
The children, aged between 5 to 15, had been picked up from various parts of Yeldurthy mandal and the bus was on its way to the schoool.
"Fourteen students including eight boys and six girls besides the driver and the cleaner were killed in the mishap.
At least 20 students were rushed to Yashoda hospital in Hyderabad," Medak District Superintendent of Police Shemushi Bajpai said.
According to the hospital, seven out of the 20 injured students are in a critical condition.
It was a heart-rending scene at the site of the mishap, with books, schoolbags and lunch boxes strewn around and inconsolable parents standing near the bodies of children. The bus was a bloodstained mangled heap.
The railway authorities earlier put the death toll at 18, but local police and district administration said it was 16.
Bikshapati Goud, a temporarily hired driver, took a shortcut, instead of passing through either of the two manned level crossings in the radius of 1.5 km of the accident site.
"The driver took (the route passing through) the unmanned gate to cross the railway tracks as the distance through a manned gate is a bit longer. This proved fatal for students," Medak district's in-charge collector A Sharat said.
The train dragged the bus for 50 metres before coming to halt.
"The regular bus driver used to be alert and would watch both sides of the tracks while crossing the site where the accident happened," Government Railway Police Inspector General Kripanand Tripathi Ujela said.
The Telangana Government said it was Railways' responsibility to put a manned gate at the level-crossing, and locals were making this demand for a long time.
People at the site of accident where a school bus was hit by a train at Masaipet in Medak. PTI