GORAKHPUR/NEW DELHI: Thirteen school children were killed and six others seriously injured on Thursday when a train hit their van at an unmanned railway crossing in Uttar Pradesh's Kushinagar, police said.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Kushinagar district, Akhilesh Kumar told IANS that one child and the driver of the van were in critical condition.
The incident took place at the Dudhi Behpurva gate at 7.10 a.m. when the children were headed to the Divine Public School. The injured were rushed to Pandrauna Hospital which is 30 km from the accident site.
Railways spokesperson Ved Prakash told IANS that the children died on the spot as the Siwan-Gorakhpur passenger train crashed into the van at the crossing, 100 km from Gorakhpur.
According to a North Eastern (NE) Railway official, at least 25 people, mostly children below the age of 10 years were travelling in the van when the incident occurred.
The train was on its way to Gorakhpur from Siwan.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's office instructed district authorities to undertake rescue and relief operations immediately.
An accident relief medical train from Gorakhpur was dispatched to the site, the NE official said. Several senior officials have also rushed to the accident site. An inquiry has been ordered.
According to the Railway Ministry, it was an unmanned level crossing with Gate Mitra deployed there.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal expressed his grief over the accident and announced an ex-gratia of Rs two lakh each to the kin of the victims.
"I am saddened by the news of school children dying in a train accident. I have spoken to senior railway officials and ordered an inquiry into it," Goyal said in a tweet.
Adityanath directed the Divisional Commissioner of Gorakhpur to conduct a probe into the incident. He also announced an ex-gratia of Rs two lakh each to the families of the deceased.