A group of nine school children of a Government school in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district were crushed to death by a speeding SUV on a Saturday afternoon when they were about to cross National Highway 77 after their school.
Body parts and blood lay scattered across the busy road that connects Muzaffarpur to north Bihar, according to witnesses, who said some children were still lying on the highway.
“So far, we can confirm only nine deaths,” deputy police superintendent, Muzaffarpur East, Gaurav Pandey said to the media, fearing the toll could rise as at least six children were critical.
“The injured children have been rushed to Sri Krishna Memorial College and Hospital (SKMCH). Hospitals in Patna, around 80 kilometers from Muzaffarpur, have also been alerted and asked to be prepared for treatment of the critically injured children,” he said.
The driver of the Bolero SUV fled after abandoning the vehicle near the spot, Pandey added.
“We saw a truck first hitting a woman on the national highway and trying to flee as people ran to her rescue. The Bolero coming from opposite direction apprehending trouble from locals tried to avoid the injured woman on the road and crushed the children who had lined up to cross on the left plank,” said Mithilesh Yadav, a member of the district board and witness of the incident.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced Rs 4 lakh as ex-gratia to the each of the families of the deceased.
The Sri Krishna Memorial College and Hospital was chaotic as the children’s bodies piled up. Loud screams of parents who had lost their wards rented the air. Injured children were writhing in pain, hospital staff was running helter-skelter and scores of onlookers kept pouring in to find out what was going on.
Deputy inspector general of police (DIG), Muzaffarpur range, Anil Kumar Singh, who was headed to Patna for a crime meeting, returned to Muzafffarpur midway to supervise the rescue operation.