At least 13 children died and eight others sustained injuries when a train rammed into their school van at an unmanned railway crossing in Kushinagar area of Uttar Pradesh this morning. Kushinagar is about 50 km from Gorakhpur.
The driver of the bus, too, lost his life in the accident. The children, who belonged to Divine Public School, died on the spot when the Thawe-Kapatanganj passenger train crashed into the van at the unmanned crossing gate at Behpurva. The train was on its way to Gorakhpur from Siwan.
After reaching the accident site, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath took stock of the situation and shifted the blame on the van driver.
“I express my condolence over the unfortunate incident. I spoke to the railway minister on this and I am told that the school van driver was wearing earphones while driving… this is a case of pure negligence,” he said addressing the reporters and added, “An inquiry has been ordered and based on the investigation, the guilty will face the most severe punishment.”
Thousands of angry residents have gathering at the accident site to protest against CM Adityanath and his administration. The protesters are demanding a compensation of Rs 50 lakh, according to Firstpost.
Meanwhile, the Principal of the Divine Mission School, KJ Khan, and the school owner are both reported to be missing.
Expressing condolence, CM Adityanath had announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the families of the victims and directed the Gorakhpur commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the accident.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for the kin of the deceased.
“I received the unfortunate news of the death of school children. I have asked senior officials to conduct a probe into the incident. Railways will give a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the kin of the dead over and above the aid announced by the Uttar Pradesh government,” he said in a tweet.