At least 13 schoolchildren under 10 years were killed when a speeding train rammed into their school van at an unmanned rail crossing in Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh, and halted only after dragging the mangled vehicle for some 100 metres.
It is reported that the van driver, who also died on the spot, was listening to music using earphones when the incident took place.
Addressing the media over the tragic accident, the rail authorities claimed that the number of accidents at unmanned crossing have come down in the recent years. Ashok Lohani, Chairman, said that the number of accidents reported at unmanned rail crossings was 50 in 2014-15, which came down to 29 in 2015-16, 20 in 2016-17 and 10 in 2017-18.
However, when India TV carried out a reality check in 20 different cities, it emerged that despite such tragedies, precautionary and safety measures at unmanned rail crossings are kept at bay, and are prone to more such accidents in near future.
Watch India TV’s exclusive investigation over unmanned railway crossings:
Following the tragic accident in Kushinagar, the Indian Railways announced that out of the 16 unmanned zones, it is planning to 11 zones of unmanned railway crossings by September 2018, while the remaining five zones will be reviews for early completion than the actual date, which is March 2020.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited the accident site and the hospital to meet the injured children. He directed the Divisional Commissioner of Gorakhpur to conduct a probe into the incident. He too announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of the deceased.