15 children died as train slams into school bus in Telangana
HYDERABAD: Thirteen children died on the spot and two
died later in hospital, succumbing to head and chest injuries and multiple
fractures, as the Nanded passenger train slammed into their school bus at an
unmanned crossing near Musaipet in Veldhurti mandal of Medak district, 70 kms
from Hyderabad, at 8:30 am on Thursday.
A bloodied school uniform flutters in the wind. A
Class 3 Science textbook lies beside green and pink lunch box bags. Near the
rail tracks is an intact slate with “A, B” and “1, 2” written on it. A brown
“Winne the Pooh” schoolbag with bloodstains on it lies a few feet away.
The school bus driver, K Bhikshapati, and his helper
also died in the accident. Twenty-one students are in critical condition at
Yashoda Hospital in Secunderabad and RR Hospital at Kompally.
Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister N Narasimha
said the bus driver was new to this particular route. “We have been told by the
school authorities that the driver was given this route only this morning. He
was new to this route and was probably crossing the rail tracks for the first
time,’’ he said.
A tractor driver who was at the spot, waiting for the
train to pass, told the police that the bus driver did not stop at the crossing
to check if a train was coming. He said although the train driver tried to stop
the train when he saw the bus, it ploughed into the bus, almost cutting it into
two. The train dragged the bus for nearly a kilometre before coming to a stop.
As the bus rolled over several times from the impact
of the collision, many children were thrown under the train and died
immediately. The children, aged between 5-10 years, were on their way to
Kakatiya Techno School at Viveknagar in Tooparan. They had been picked up from
Islampur area of Medak district. The victims included siblings Varun and Swati,
Chintala Chaitanya and Chintala Divya.
The villagers were first to reach the spot, rescuing
the surviving children and pulled out the dead. Before officials arrived,
distraught parents had pulled out the mangled remains of their children from
the wreckage. Villagers said fire department personnel and the police arrived
almost half-an-hour later.
Blaming the driver, Minister T Harish Rao said, “I
think, the driver threw all caution to the wind and thought that he could cross
the tracks at the unmanned level crossing before the train. He may have
misjudged the speed and distance of the train, which was travelling a good
speed. It is a big tragedy.
Expressing shock over the incident, Chief Minister K
Chandrashekar Rao announced Rs 5 lakh ex gratia to each victim’s family. “The
government will bear all the hospital and medical expenditure of the injured
students,’’ he said.