Kapkot, Uttarakhand: At least 18 little children have died and nearly 30 other school children are still trapped under the rubble of a school building which collapsed in Uttarakhand's Bageshwar district on Wednesday.
In the middle of the heavy rain, rescue workers are trying to get to these trapped children. The terrible tragedy happened at Kapkot, a few hours from Nainital.
The roof of the Saraswati Shishu Mandir at Sumgad village collapsed when the children were studying, burying them under the debris.
Three teams of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police are involved in the rescue and have managed to bring out and save six children but many more are still trapped, the heavy rain is making rescue work very difficult.
The children were in the age group of six to 10 years, Anup Nautiyal, CEO of Emergency Response Service said, adding the rescued children who were injured were safe and were being treated by doctors.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank said the search and rescue teams have recovered the bodies of 18 children from the debris of the collapsed building in Kapkot area, about 450 km from Dehradun.
Nautiyal said according to reports around 50 children were inside the classes when the tragedy occurred. Fortunately, several children were in the open compound area, he added.
The Chief Minister also announced ex-gratia of Rs 50,000 each to the families, which have lost their children.
Despite bad weather, the rescue and search operation is going on in the affected area, said official sources.
Bageshwar District Magistrate D S Garbiyal said the tragedy occurred due to heavy landslides triggered by torrential rains at the hill where the school is situated.
Rescue teams from the district headquarters had a tough time reaching the spot after the bridge linking the area with Kapkot also collapsed due to heavy rains last night, Bageshwar District Development Officer S K Singh said.
However, locals sprang into action immediately after the incident and safely brought six children out of the rubble, he said.
Uttarakhand Governor Margaret Alva expressed grief over the death of children in the tragedy at Kapkot area of Bageshwar district.
In her message, Alva has also prayed to God to give strength to the family members of the children to bear the loss, a Raj Bhavan release said.
Nautiyal said that rescue operations are continuing despite bad weather and poor connectivity in the area.
"We have already deployed few ambulances on the spot and relief work continues as we speak now..," he said.
PM sanctions Rs one lakh
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expressed grief at the unfortunate incident and sanctioned Rs one lakh each for the kin of the victims.
"The Prime Minister is grieved to learn of the unfortunate demise of 18 children of a primary school in Uttarakhand's Bageshwar district," a PMO statement said.
It said the Prime Minister has sanctioned ex-gratia assistance of Rs one lakh each for the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each in case of seriously injured from the PM's National Relief Fund.
The mishap occurred in Kapkot area of Bageshwar district this morning following heavy rains. (With PTI Inputs)