Page last updated at 11:16 GMT, Wednesday, 13 January 2010

School children die in Pakistan crash

A child injured in the bus crash in Punjab being taken to the hospital on 13 January 2009
The bus was carrying school children

At least eight children have been killed after a train hit their school bus at an ungated railway crossing in Pakistan's Punjab province.

A police official said that other children were injured in the incident near the town of Mian Channu. The driver of the bus was also killed.

There were no reports of casualties on the passenger train.

Railway crossings are often ungated, unmanned and poorly maintained in Pakistan, leading to such accidents.

Wednesday morning's collision happened in thick fog which had reduced visibility as the train, from Quetta, passed over the level crossing.

"The Lahore-bound Jaffer Express collided with a van carrying 24 children, killing [eight] of them and wounding [several] others," senior railway official Bashir Ahmad Khan told the AFP news agency.

The dead were all aged between eight and 10 years, officials said.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has ordered an investigation into the "tragic" incident.

"The prime minister expressed deep grief and concern over the tragic road accident in which several school children lost their lives," a statement issued by his office said.

Mr Gilani has also urged state-owned Pakistan Railways to "ensure proper vigilance at their unmanned crossings, particularly during times of fog".

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