HYDERABAD: At least 20 school-going children were killed when the bus in which they travelling was hit by a passenger at Toopran in Medak district, about 50 km from the state capital this morning. An equal number of children are undergoing treatment at a private hospital and the condition of many of them is stated to be critical.
The tragedy occurred around 9 am when the driver of the bus belonging to a private school, ferrying around 40 students, tried to cross the unmanned crossing. The approaching train hit the bus and dragged it for almost a kilometer, killing many students on the spot.
There is no clarity yet on whether the bus driver did not notice the train or went ahead even after spotting the approaching train with the hope that he would be able to cross the track before it gets close. The train, running from Nizamabad to Secunderabad, was four hours behind schedule.
A majority of the students, according to parents and eyewitnesses, are in the primary classes and the mishap took place within minutes after they boarded the bus from the nearby villages. The mishap site presented a heart-breaking scene with bodies of children strewn all over the place even as rescuers tried to shift the badly injured among them to various hospitals.
Locals say several representations were made over the years seeking a manned gate at the crossing but apparently nothing happened. A railway official said an inquiry is still on but preliminary information suggested that the bus driver went ahead even after spotting the train.
Several ministers of Telangana government, officials, doctors from various hospitals reached the site soon after the mishap and are overseeing rescue and relief operations. According to a railway official, as many as 500 unmanned gates have been removed in the limits of South Central Railway (SCR) in the last three years. There are, however, still 640 such unmanned crossings and they too would be removed in the next few years.
Varying versions are being heard about the number of casualties but in the final count, the number is expected to cross 20. Apart from those who died on the spot, the cleaner of the bus and a child succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment at a private hospital.
Courtesy: The New Indian Express