- Police say crash happened after bus pulled on to unmanned railway crossing without checking for a train
- Twelve children were killed instantly, while another six died in hospital. All were aged between seven and 14
- Twenty are thought to still be in hospital, with 15 of them still in critical condition following crash this morning
- A father died when he had a heart attack after being told both his children were dead, said a government minister.
Eighteen children have been killed after a train crashed into their school bus at an unmanned railway crossing in southern India, police said.
The bus driver also died from the impact, while another 20 children aged seven to 14 were taken to hospital injured, 15 of them critically.
The youngsters were on their way to school when the train hit, dragging the bus more than 300ft along the tracks, according to the Hindustan Times newspaper.
A father who lost both of his children suffered a heart attack and died after hearing the news of the collision, said state Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao.
Hundreds of villagers rushed to the scene in Medak district, 60 miles north of Hyderabad, the capital of Telangana state. Some of them hurled stones at police as shocked parents grieved for their loss.
The bus crossed a railway track at an unmanned crossing in Telangana state without stopping to check if the way was clear, said Indian Railways spokesman Anil Kumar Saxena.
Police said the bus was carrying more than 32 children, 12 of whom died on the spot. Seven more died in a nearby hospital, where others are in critical condition.
‘Doctors say blood is flowing from their bodies,’ said a police official who declined to be identified, as he was not authorised to speak to the media. He put the tally of deaths at 20, including the bus driver.
Accidents are common on India’s rail network, one of the world’s largest with 23 million people riding daily on about 11,000 passenger trains. Most accidents are blamed on poor maintenance and human error.
There are hundreds of unmanned crossings across the country, especially in remote areas. Poor finances limit efforts by rail authorities to staff the dangerous crossings around the clock.
Road and rail accidents are common in India, where rickety infrastructure and weak law enforcement struggle to cope with a surge in traffic and floods of unlicensed drivers. More than 230,000 people were killed on Indian roads in 2010.