Mangled remains of a school bus with blood stains on it, strewn bags, tiffin boxes, notebooks and text books was all it remained on the accident site of the bus-train collision in which 18 persons, including 16 school children, were killed in Telangana's Medak district this morning.
A pall of gloom descended on Islampet village, where most of the boys and girl students had boarded the ill-fated bus which was hit by a passenger train.
The accident spot at an unmanned railway level crossing between Masayipet and Wadiaram railway stations echoed the painful and emotional outpouring of the near and dear ones of the students, in the age group of 5-15 years, whose lives were snuffed out.
The locals were the first to rush to the accident spot in large numbers and contributed in the rescue efforts. They tried to remove debris so that children who were entangled in the shattered remains of the bus could be rescued.
"I heard a big thud and came out of my house. I saw the bus was being dragged by the train. Immediately we sent a message for ambulance and reached the railway track. We managed to rescue some students," said a villager of Masayipet who lives near the accident spot.
"I was sleeping when he (Vamsi) was going to school. My father gave him send off and dropped to the school bus," said inconsolably crying father of Vamsi, who died in the accident.
Medak In-charge Collector A Sharat said they received reports that the bus driver was talking over phone while driving at the unmanned railway crossing.
He, however, said it has to be verified and facts will be known only after a thorough inquiry.