April 26, 2018 / 4:28 AM / a year ago

Thirteen children killed in India as train hits school van

People gather around a school bus after it collided with a train in Uttar Pradesh, India April 26, 2018, in this screen grab taken from video. ANI via REUTERS

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Thirteen children were killed on Thursday when a train hit their school van at an unmanned crossing in Uttar Pradesh, the second major accident in India involving school children in a little over two weeks.

Police were investigating the cause of the accident in Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh but authorities said the van driver was responsible for safety at unmanned crossings.

“Railways is not responsible in case of unmanned level crossings,” said Ashwani Lohani, chairman of the Indian Railway Board.

Yogi Adityanath, the state’s chief minister, told reporters at the site that the accident was possibly a result of negligence on the part of the van driver, who he said was wearing headphones at the time.

Eight children and the driver were injured and taken to hospital, police said. There were 22 children in the vehicle.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said an inquiry had been ordered and his ministry would pay 200,000 rupees ($3,000) to the families of those killed.

Lohani said that in the long term, the solution was the replacement of all unmanned crossings in the huge railway network with bridges or tunnels for roads.

“We are working on it, but it will take time,” he said.

On April 9, at least 24 children and three adults were killed when a school bus plunged off a mountain road in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh.

Reporting by Swati Bhat; Additonal reporting by Neha Dasgupta and Malini Menon; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel

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