New Delhi, July 24 : Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda Thursday said the accident at an unmanned rail-road crossing in Telangana, which left at least 19 students dead, was caused by the negligence of the school bus driver. “According to preliminary reports received by me, the incident took place due to the negligent driving by the school bus driver,” Gowda said in a statement in both the houses of parliament.
The unmanned level crossing in Medak district has relatively low traffic density, the railway minister said, adding that visibility was clear when the accident took place. Besides, he said all basic infrastructure, such as road signs, speed-breakers, whistle boards and levelled surface were in place at the crossing. “The driver did not stop the vehicle at the stop board short of the level crossing to check for approaching train, as prescribed in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.”
The minister also announced Rs.2 lakh ex-gratia to the kin of the deceased, Rs. one lakh to those injured critically and Rs.20,000 to those with minor injuries. He added that the injured have been shifted to nearby hospitals. Members from both houses expressed grief over the incident. At least 19 students were killed and some 20 children injured in the accident around 9.15 a.m. Thursday at Masayipet, about 70 km from Hyderabad, when a train hit the bus of a private school that was taking the children to school.