Four children and the driver of a school van were killed on Thursday when their vehicle was hit by a Varanasi-bound passenger train at an unmanned railway crossing in Mau district of Uttar Pradesh.
The incident brings to focus the problem of the 11,000 unmanned crossings in India which pose many dangers.
The van had 22 children on board — from kindergarten to Class 5 — all of whom studied in Dharam Dev DD Convent School. The driver and four children were killed on the spot in the head-on collision. Of the other 18 children on board, eight are in serious condition.
The police has said that as per preliminary investigation the driver’s negligence led to the crash – he was allegedly listening to music on his earphones as he drove. The children reportedly tried warning him as they saw the train, but he was too busy listening to music.
The news of the accident was brought up in Parliament and railways minister Suresh Prabhu Prabhu said “negligent driving by the driver” was to be blamed for the accident. He is currently in Mau monitoring the rescue and relief work.