Three children were killed and 16 injured, five of them seriously, when their school van was hit by a railway engine at an unmanned crossing at Haraj village, 30 km from Ferozepur, on the Ferozepur-Ludhiana track on Monday morning.
Onlookers said the van driver kept speeding despite being warned by students about the approaching engine. The impact of the collision was so severe that the van broke into pieces, with parts landing in nearby fields.
The three children who died were identified as Sandeep Kaur, a class X student, Rupinder Kaur, a class VIII student, and seven-year-old Shubhkaraj Preet Singh, all from Wara Jawahar Singh Wala village. The bodies were taken to the Ferozepur Civil Hospital for post mortem.
The van belonged to Balwant Rai DAV Senior Secondary School, Talwandi Bhai.
Five children were referred to Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, in a critical condition. The remaining 11 students were admitted to private hospitals in Moga.
Irrigation Minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon visited the injured and announced an ex gratia of Rs 1 lakh each for the families of the deceased.
Ferozepur Deputy Commissioner Megh Raj ordered a magisterial probe into the accident. SSP Dinesh Partap Singh said the administration would take action against van driver Kuldeep Singh, who was absconding.
Additional divisional railway manager Jaswant Singh Gera said a three-member committee would inquire into the incident and submit report in 10 days. “If any laxity is found on part of the railways, the guilty would be taken to task,” he said.