JALLANDHAR, Punjab (March 5, 2013)—Thirteen [young] children were killed and nine injured when a truck collided head-on with their school van on the Jalandhar-Nakodar highway near Nakodar on Monday morning. The condition of two of the injured children is serious.

The children from Akal Academy School in Boparai Kalan village in Nakodar were on their way to school when a truck ferrying bricks collided with their mini-bus (Tempo Traveller) near Gohir village. The bus had picked up some children from their homes in Mudda and Talwandi Bharo villages and was on its way to Dherian village to pick up more students.

Eyewitnesses said the collision took place around 7.45 am. Both the bus and the truck were at high speed. The impact of the accident was such that the roof of the bus was sheared off. Bags, books, tiffin boxes, water bottles, torn caps and sweaters lay strewn at the accident spot.

There were 22 children all of which aged between 4 year to 11 years traveling in the van at the time of the accident, school sources said. Nine of the victims were boys and the rest girls.

The injured children were taken to hospitals in Jalandhar and Nakodar. While the bus driver died, his conductor-brother was injured. Both brothers were from Boparai Kalan village. The truck driver fled the spot and is missing. DSP Jasbir Singh said a case has been registered against him at the Sadar police station.

Jagvir Kaur of Mudda village, who lost her younger brother in the mishap, saw the accident occur and was one of the first to reach the spot. She was riding pillion on her uncle’s scooter behind the truck that collided with the bus.

“It was a misty morning in this part of town. My uncle and I were going from Nakodar to Mudda on a scooter when a piece of glass hit his hand. We realised that a truck and a van had collided. The truck dragged the van for quite some time before it stopped and the driver fled. We later realised that it was my brother’s school van,” she said.

Jagvir and her uncle called up an ambulance and informed parents of some of the students. She also took five injured students to a nearby hospital with the help of a four-wheeler she managed to flag down.

“We were behind the truck. Both the truck and the van were at high speed when the incident happened. Had the truck not dragged the van after collision, the casualties would not have been this serious,” she said. While the bus was badly damaged, only the left side of the truck front was damaged.

The parents said the van belonged to the school and they had repeatedly complained of speeding by the driver. Principal Amandeep Kaur, however, said the bus was a private vehicle arranged by the parents themselves.

A good Samaritan couple from Bathinda was the first to come to the rescue of the children minutes after their school van rammed into a brick-loaded truck at Jaheera village near Nakodar. While Anju Bala, a clinical instructor at a nursing college, checked the pulse of the victims who were being taken out of the bus, her husband Sonu Chaudhary helped in shifting the injured to hospital.

A truck ferrying bricks collided head-on with a Tempo Traveller taking children to their school around 7:45 am. Both the bus and the truck were at high speed. The truck dragged the bus for some distance before coming to a halt. The roof of the bus was sheared off due to the impact of the collision