At least 14 children and the driver of a school bus were killed Thursday after a train crashed into the bus at a railroad crossing in the Indian state of Telangana, media reports said, citing police.
The school bus was reportedly carrying about 32 students, who were on their way to Kakatiya Techno School in Toopran, about five miles south of the crash site. The accident occurred in Masaipet village of Medak district, in the country's newest state, about 43 miles north of Hyderabad. Some local media reports said the death toll exceeded 20 and that about 10 students were critically injured. The driver of the bus attempted to pass through the unmanned railroad crossing by ignoring the oncoming train, according to officials.
"It all happened in no time. Even before we realized 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 crash site, said, according to The Times of India, a local newspaper.
The injured have reportedly been moved to nearby hospitals, and officials said that the number of casualties could increase.
Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao reportedly expressed his grief over the incident and has ordered an inquiry into the accident.
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"Immediately after the incident, we dispatched relief vehicles from Secunderabad and Hyderabad. All our senior officials have reached the place and our general manager is also going there to personally supervise the relief work," a public relations officer for the South Central division of Indian Railways, said, according to The Times of India.
India's vast but ageing railroad network is also marked with thousands of unmanned crossings, typically in the rural parts of the country.