Five children and van driver were killed and eight others injured when a school van collided with a train at a railway crossing in Uttar Pradesh's Mau district on Thursday morning.
Superintendent of Police AK Shukla said the five children died on the spot while eight others sustained injuries, PTI reported. All of the victims were students of DD Convent School in Hajipur.
The incident occurred at around 8 am when the school van driver tried to cross the Mahaso unmanned crossing in Ranipur, moments before the Tamsa Express arrived. The train, heading to Varanasi from Azamgarh, rammed into the van at the crossing.
Eyewitnesses said that the van driver had earphones plugged into his ears while he was driving, due to which he must not have heard the train approaching, India Today reported.
However, Mau's information officer Jitendra Pratap Singh said the accident happened because of fog.
"It was quite foggy in the morning when the incident took place," Singh told the AFP news agency.
The Railway Minister of India Suresh Prabhu will make a suo motu statement on the accident in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
"Just now, there has been a railway accident. We want to make a statement in Parliament. The Railway Minister has given a notice and I spoke to both the presiding officers. The government wants to take the Opposition in confidence and inform the House," Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters outside Parliament House.
According to reports, Indian railways have nearly 15,000 unmanned crossings, which results in the death of hundreds. Earlier in July, at least 25 students were killed when a passenger train rammed into a school bus at an unmanned railway crossing in Telangana's village.
Indian Railways is said to operate 9,000 passenger trains with nearly 23 million passengers every day. The safety issues with the IR arises several times every year and continue to be a matter of grave concern.