Around 8.30 am, the Nanded-Secunderabad Passenger hit the bus at the unmanned railway crossing. The train dragged the mangled vehicle for a few hundred metres down the tracks.
Eyewitnesses said that the impact of the train-bus collision was such that the bus was thrown up in the air and fell on the ground with a thud. The students belong to Islampur and Zakeerpalli villages.
Fifteen of the children along with the driver Bikshapati died on the spot. In no time, local people rushed to the spot and rescued over 20 students. The injured were first rushed to Balaji and RR hospitals in Kompally and later to Yashoda Hospitals in Secunderabad. Two children succumbed to their injuries and many are stated to be in a critical condition. According to doctors, the children suffered multiple fractures, injuries to liver, spleen, kidneys, lungs and other vital organs etc. They are all undergoing treatment in ICU. Specialists belonging to 13 disciplines are monitoring the condition of the children, the hospital said.
On receipt of news, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao immediately ordered Ministers T Harish Rao and Jagadishwar Reddy to rush to the accident spot and render all help to the bereaved families. He also rushed to Yashoda Hospital and directed best medicare for the children.
While the Central government announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each, the Telangana government announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh and Rs 20,000 for the injured. The government also said that it would bear the entire medical expenses. DIG N Suryanarayana said. “The cause of the accident and whose mistake it is we are investigating, some 40 children were on board of the bus.”
Thousands of people from nearby villages flocked to the accident spot. Onlookers were moved to tears as family members and relatives of the deceased broke down and wailed over the bodies. The site was strewn thick with twisted metal and other parts of the wreckage, body parts in the wreckage and school bags, tiffin boxes, shoes etc. The tracks were blood-splattered and gory scenes were witnessed. As time passed by, anger swelled among the crowds some of whom took to stone pelting at officials and hampered relief, demanding that those responsible should be punished. They sat on dharna on the road protesting against the carelessness of the railways for not providing a railway gate.
The situation turned violent when the relief van of the SCR carrying the General Manager of the SCR reached the spot. The police had a tough time to control the situation. At one point of time, the angry crowd including activists of Student Federation and other organisations resorted to stone pelting injuring some police officials.
Another side, parents were seen sitting by their dead children as a small crane and a digger tried to lift wreckage from the tracks. Villagers blamed railway authorities for the mishap, but grieving parents found fault with the bus driver for over speeding and negligence while crossing the railway track.
A mother, who lost her child in the terrible tragedy, said the bus left her house only 10 minutes earlier. “It was the last goodbye by my child,” she said amidst tears while recalling the “tata” (waving of hand as a gesture of goodbye) of her son.
Eyewitnesses said the bus driver did not notice the oncoming train, leading to the gory accident. “It all happened in no time. Even before we realised what had happened, it was all over. Pieces of flesh and blood were strewn all around. The bus was mangled beyond recognition. It was a very sad sight,” a teacher, who was present at the accident spot, told media. Some say that the driver was talking on cell phone and did not notice the train.
Senior railway officials, policemen and other local administrative officers reached the spot as soon the news broke out. According to SCR spokesperson K Sambasiva Rao, SCR relief vans and 20 Ambulances were pressed into service. Three Ministers personally supervised the rescue and relief operations.
Host of political leaders of all political parties rushed to Masaipet and consoled the parents and relatives of the victims. Deadly train accidents are common on India’s railways, whose vast and rundown network carries tens of millions of people daily. 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.