Moga, Dec 14 (UNI) As many as 16 passengers were killed and equal number injured when a mini bus in which they were travelling was hit by the Satluj Express at a railway crossing near Chuharchak village in the district this morning.
All the injured were taken to Jagraon Hospital, while three stated to be seriously injured were referred to the DMC Hospital Ludhiana.
Among the deceased were eight children who were on their way to school, Deputy Commissioner Satwant Singh Johal said.
According to the deputy commissioner the Jagraon-Badhni Kalan bound mini bus arrived at New Chuharchak crossing, which had been closed due to the expected arrival of the train. The gate was opened by the gate man and in the meantime, the train which was coming from Ludhiana, rammed into the mini bus.
The bus driver escaped unhurt as he jumped out of the mini bus when he saw the train.
Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, meanwhile, announced a compensation of Rs five lakh each for the families of those killed in the accident.
The Minister, who was in Kolkata, also announced a compensation of Rs 50,000 each for those critically injured and Rs 15,000 each for the people, who suffered minor injuries.
''The Railway Ministry would also consider offering jobs to one family member of the deceased, who belonged to the poorest of the poor section,'' he said.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal visited the accident site and placed a sum of Rs 21 lakh at the disposal of the Deputy Commissioner to meet exigencies in the wake of the accident.
Later, Mr Badal visited a village gurdwara at Chuharchak village where he met families of the deceased and the injured and expressed sympathies with them.
He also visited Jagraon Civil Hospital and inquired about the condition of the injured persons who were admitted there.
The Railways Police have registered a case of negligence against gate man Kulvinder Singh and mini bus driver Iqbal Singh under sections 304, 337, 120 B of the IPC and 175 Railways Act in GRP station Faridkot.
The deceased were identified as Bika Singh, Shinder Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Kamaljeet Kaur, Jagdeep Singh and Harjit Kaur, Sunita Devi of Mullan Pur, Surjiit Singh from Jagrao, Jagdev Singh and also other Jagdev Singh both from Mullanpur, Rajdeep Kaur of Chuharchak, Sandeep Kaur, Amandeep Kaur, Sukhwinder Singh, Surjit Kaur (60) of Daudhar and Amrinder Kaur.
Punjab Governor and Chandigarh Union Territory Administrator, General (Retd) S F Rodrigues, has expressed deep shock over the tragic incident.
He asked the Red Cross Society and NGOs to extend necessary medical relief to the injured and help the next of kin of victims in the unfortunate tragedy.