Twelve schoolchildren and the driver of the bus they were travelling in were killed and about two dozen other children injured when their vehicle collided with a sand-laden truck amid dense fog in Etah district’s Aliganj on Thursday morning.
The bus was carrying students to JS Vidyaniketan, which had opened despite the district magistrate’s orders to keep all schools closed in view of intense cold, officials said.
Reports said the tragedy happened when the school bus driver tried to save two school girls on bicycles. As he could not see the approaching truck due to dense fog, he rammed the bus into it. The two girls also died in the accident.
The bus driver also died in the accident while the driver of the truck lost his legs.
“There were about 60 students in the bus which had a capacity of only 35 students,” said Parush Ram Singh, the Aliganj police station incharge.
Anger and grief writ large on their faces, parents of the victims and locals, however, said both bus and truck drivers were driving in high speed despite the fog. They also alleged that the rescue operation was not well coordinated.
A team of doctors was sent to the spot and the injured students were referred to Agra, Aligarh and Saifai hospitals.
District magistrate, Etah, Shambhu Nath said eight children died on the spot and the rest in hospital. Local officials feared the toll might increase.
The DM said orders have been issued to cancel the recognition of the school. The deceased kids were in the 5-15 years age bracket, he said.
Soon after getting the news, senior officials rushed to the accident spot and supervised rescue and relief operations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death of the children in the mishap. “Anguished by the tragic accident in UP’s Etah district. I share the pain of the bereaved families & condole passing away of young children,” he said in a tweet. “I pray that those injured in the accident in Etah recover at the earliest,” he said.
Uttar Pradesh governor Ram Naik and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav also condoled the death of the children.
The chief minister asked district officials to launch all out rescue operations and ensure proper treatment of the injured.
Director general of police Javed Ahmed said the school was open against the order of the district administration to close due to cold.
“Strict action will be taken against the school,” he added.
About half-a-dozen students were injured when their school van collided with tractor in Mustaffabad area of Jasrana in Firozabad district on Thursday morning.
The students were from Gardenia Public School in Shikohabad of Firozabad district. The school authorities brought another vehicle of the school and took the injured students for treatment.
(With inputs from agencies)