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Fog crash kills 11 school kids in Haryana



Ambala (Haryana) : A portion of the Saha-Shahbad highway near Shergarh Bitha village, about 15 km from Ambala, was a mangled heap of metal, tiffin boxes and lifeless little bodies on Monday morning.

As the news of an accident that had left 11 schoolchildren and the van driver dead and injured 18 others,
spread, a pall of gloom descended on the neighbouring villages. The deceased, who were in the age group of 5 to 8 years, were students of Arjun Public Senior Secondary School.

While the police and passersby struggled to sift through the debris and corpses to reach the surviving children, anxious parents were seen shuttling from hospital to hospital in search of their wards.

It was 9.45 am, and the van carrying 30 schoolchildren, was barely 500 metres from the school when it collided with a truck coming from the opposite direction. According to locals, the speeding truck had missed the approaching van due to the thick fog.

The impact of the collision had sent the van skidding and it fell into a 10-foot-deep gorge. Angry guardians said the fact that the van was over-loaded-it had the capacity to accommodate 11 children, but over 30 children were packed in daily — could have been a factor.

The driver of the van died on the spot while eight of the students were declared dead on arrival by the doctors at the Ambala Cantonment civil hospital. Two others succumbed to their injuries later.

Six of the deceased students belonged to Pasiyala village, four to Sabka and one to Dinarpur.

After the accident, irate villagers blocked the state highway demanding arrest of the truck driver, who had fled the spot. Villagers attempted to set the cargo truck on fire, but were dissuaded by SDM Prem Chand.

Chief minister of Haryana Bhupinder Singh Hooda and education minister Geeta Bhukal later visited the Ambala Cantonment civil hospital.

The CM has announced Rs 1 lakh compensation for the families of the deceased, and Rs 25,000 and Rs 10,000 for the injured. He has also ordered a magisterial inquiry into the accident.

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