April 26 (UPI) — At least 13 school children and one adult died Thursday when a school van was hit by a passenger train at a rail crossing in India, authorities said.
The small van was carrying 18 children to the Divine Public School when it was hit by the train in Kushinagar.
The crossing where the accident occurred was said to be unsupervised. Officials said the gate monitor had tried to stop the collision, but failed.
Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh province, visited the scene and the hospital where the surviving injured children were taken.
“[The van driver] had earphones on, and there are questions regarding his age, as well,” Adityanath said. “There are rules in place. An inquiry will be conducted as to why they were not followed. Strict action will be taken.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reacted to the accident with sorrow.
“I am extremely saddened,” he said. “Uttar Pradesh government and railway department will take appropriate action.”
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind said he was shocked by Thursday’s news.
“Shocked to learn about the horrific accident involving a bus carrying innocent schoolchildren,” Kovind said in a tweet. “Thoughts and prayers with the bereaved families and with those injured.”
The accident is the second deadly school bus crash in India this month.
On April 9, another bus plunged 25 feet into a gorge in northwestern India, killing 30 people — all but three who were children.