At least 18 killed as bus rams into train in India
Dec 14, 2007, 15:10 GMT
New Delhi - At least 18 people including six school children were killed and 14 others injured when a bus crashed into a passenger train in India's northern state of Punjab on Friday, officials said.
The accident occurred in the central district of Moga, about 200 kilometres west of state capital Chandigarh, when the bus rammed into the gate of a railway crossing and hit the speeding Sutlej Express, police said.
'Eighteen people were killed after the mini-bus carrying school and college students as well as teachers, hit the train,' district police officer Jaspal Singh said.
'While four passengers were killed on the scene, others succumbed to their injuries on way to hospitals or in hospitals,' Singh said. The victims included six children.
No train passenger suffered any injury in the accident. Witnesses said that the bus was dragged up to a distance of at least 20 metres by the train.
Police said of three of the 14 injured were in critical condition and were being treated in hospitals in Moga and neighbouring Ludhiana city.
Railway authorities blamed the bus driver. 'It was a manned level crossing and its gate was closed for the passage of the train,' Sri Prakash, general manager of India's Northern Railway told reporters.
'The driver was at fault as he could not see the gate because of low visibility due to heavy fog and crashed the vehicle into the Sutlej Express,' he added.
But some witnesses charged the railways with negligence saying the accident occurred because the gate was open.
'The gate should have been closed if the train was passing by. The driver knows the route well as he plies the bus on the route many times during the day,' one witness told NDTV network.
Although preliminary probe shows that the accident was caused by dense fog, the police and the railways officials launched investigations to determine the exact cause of the collision.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur