|MAIN АКИpress CA-News||About us On-line subscription|
AKIPRESS.COM - A passenger train has crashed into a school bus in southern India, killing at least 11 children, with fears the death toll could rise further, officials say.
A senior police officer said "11 students and the bus driver were killed", while a railway official said he feared as many as 25 children were dead after Thursday's collision in newly formed Telangana state.
Ravi Nallamala, a local police officer, said at least 16 children aged 7 to 14 had been injured and hospitalised in Medak district.
The area is nearly 1,500km south of New Delhi.
K Samba Siva Rao, a spokesman for South Central Railway, said the train hit the bus at an unmanned railway crossing in the village of Masaipet, about 62km from Hyderabad in Telangana, which this year was carved out of Andhra Pradesh state.
The bus was dragged several hundred metres down the tracks, according to local media reports.
The train was travelling from the city of Nanded in Maharashtra state to Hyderabad. No one on the train was killed, officials said.
"So far 11 children and one school bus driver died. Sixteen children are injured and have been shifted to hospitals," N Suryanaarayana, local police deputy inspector general, said.
"The cause of the accident and whose mistake it is we are investigating."
Rao said the school bus was carrying up to 38 children from the Kakatiya Techno School in the town of Toopran.
"As per present information about 25 schoolchildren seem to have been killed," he told AFP.
"Around 38 were in the bus as far as we know, and the rest are being sent to the hospital."
Accidents are common on India's railroad network, one of the world's largest with 20 million people riding daily on about 11,000 passenger trains.
In 2012 a government report said almost 15,000 people were killed every year on the network, describing the deaths as an annual "massacre" due mainly to poor safety standards.
Most accidents are blamed on poor maintenance and human error.