- 13 children killed, eight more injured in the accident in Khushinagar
- Accident relief medical train from Gorakhpur sent to the crash site
- Yogi Adityaanth rushed to the crash site, announced compensation
Around 7 am, the van of Divine Public School, carrying nearly 25 students, passed through the crossing and reportedly stalled on the tracks when it was hit by the train. An official said 13 children were killed on the spot and seven are critically injured. The wounded children and staff were taken to a hospital around 30 km from the site.
The train was on its way to Gorakhpur from Siwan. The official claimed that a "Gate Mitra (friend)" - a person who alerts commuters about approaching trains at unmanned crossings - tried to stop the van but it was too late.
"I am told that the school van driver was wearing earphones while driving... this is a case of pure negligence," said a Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who rushed to the crash site to take stock of the situation.
"An inquiry has been ordered and based on the investigation, the guilty will face the most severe punishment," the chief minister said.
The vehicle mostly had children below 10, he said.
A huge crowd has gathered around the yellow van, which was badly smashed on impact.
Yogi Adityanath has ordered top officials of Gorakhpur to inquire into the accident. The Chief Minister has also announced compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the families of the children.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were among those who tweeted expressing grief over the accident.
"I am extremely saddened on hearing about the death of 11 school students in a collision between a school van and a train in Uttar Pradesh's Kushinagar. The Uttar Pradesh government will take appropriate action," PM Modi said, while interacting with the Karnataka BJP workers through the NaMo App.
India is home to hundreds of railway crossings that are unmanned and particularly accident prone, with motorists often ignoring oncoming train warnings. Nearly 15,000 people die on the country's railways every year, according to a 2012 government report.
The government has vowed to upgrade unattended railway crossings next year to reduce fatal accidents.
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