In just another ten minutes (their school being just 5 kms away) all the children would have made to their classes and participated in the morning assembly and prayers. Most of them had plan to skip school on Friday to visit their village for Bonalu festival. But little did they know that they would lie dead on the rail track within minutes.
Bloodied bodies of children, in the age group of five to 12, wearing red and grey uniforms were strewn all across the rail track. For all the presence of lunch boxes, books, school bags and slates all around the railway track on a Thursday morning made a heart wrenching scene at the spot of collision of a school bus with Secunderabad-bound Nanded-Nizamabad passenger at 9.10.
Twenty students and driver of the Kakatiya Techno school bus of Toopran were killed and 19 children injured when the passenger train rammed into it at unmanned level crossing near Masaipet village in Medak district, about 40 kms from Hyderabad on Thursday morning.
Thirteen students were killed on the spot while others succumbed to injuries at two private hospitals in Kompalli on the outskirts of Hyderabad. The driver, Bhikshpati, too was killed. The injured students were first rushed to Balaji and RR hospitals in Kompalli and later shifted to Yashoda hospital in Secunderabad. Chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and two other ministers are personally monitoring the situation.
The government has announced a Rs5 lakh ex gratia to the family of deceased children and complete medicare to the injured .The license of the Kakatiya Techno school has been cancelled.
According to an eye witness account and police sources, Nanded-Secunderabad passenger train was approaching Masaipet when the school driver tried to speed past the unmanned level crossing resulting in the ghastly accident. The accident occurred at 9.10 am as the train was running four hours behind schedule.The school bus was also 25 minutes behind schedule. The mangled bus was dragged for a distance of one km before the train came to a halt.
Had the driver of the ill-fated school bus, not taken a short cut, lives of the children could have been saved, police said. The hired driver, who was behind the wheel instead of the regular driver, opted to cross the railway line through an unmanned railway level crossing though there are two manned railway crossings in Masaipet village, a senior officer said.
Police are probing whether the driver was busy speaking on his mobile and that a building near the track obstructed his view. It is said students asked the driver not to rush through the level crossing but in vain.
The driver is said to have driven the vehicle in rash manner all through while picking up students from Gundredpalli, Islampur and Kistapur before it met with the accident.
The chief minister has ordered an inquiry into the incident. Telangana home minister Nayani Narasimha Reddy blamed the Railways for the accident. South Central Railway general manager Srivatsava assured that a railway gate with a watchman will be built within a week at Masaipet.