More than a dozen children in southern India have been killed after their school bus collided with a passenger train, according to police. The accident occurred at an unmanned rail crossing.
Police say the accident occurred on Thursday when the school bus driver failed to heed warnings and attempted to drive over the track while the train was crossing.
At least 18 children were killed, along with the driver.
The children were on their way to school in Medak district in Telengana state when the crash happened, said police officer Ravi Nallamala.
Another 20 children were also injured, 15 of them critically, said Tegana state education minister G. Jagdishwar Reddy. Area police chief Sanjay Kumar warned the death toll could rise.
The train apparently rammed the bus and dragged it for several hundred meters over the track, said Kumar. Officials say no one on the train was badly injured.
Broadcaster NDTV reported that schoolbags and water bottles were scattered around the wrecked bus at the site of the accident.
The unmanned crossing where the incident occurred is approximately 62 kilometers (38 miles) from the state capital Hyderabad, according to South Central Railway spokesman K. Samba Siva Rao.
India's rail network is one of the largest in the world, with 23 million people riding daily on around 11,000 passenger trains. There are hundreds of unmanned crossings around the country, especially in remote areas, and accidents are common.
The country has also seen a surge in trucks and cars on the road, as well as unlicensed drivers.
More than 230,000 people were killed on Indian roads in 2010.
dr/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)