Shajapur: Three children drowned in Shajapur district of Madhya Pradesh on Friday when their school-van, packed beyond capacity, fell into a well, police said.
The tragic incident took place at Richhoda village near here. The deceased were identified as Divya and Hardik who studied in Lower KG, and Ayush, who studied in Class I.
All three were students of the private A Academy Middle School, said Sub Divisional Officer of Police Umrao Singh Maravi.
Eighteen other children who were in the van -- a Maruti Omni -- were rescued by villagers and rushed to a hospital, Maravi told PTI.
The incident took place when the children had boarded the van to go home after the school.
The driver, while reversing the van, misjudged and drove it into an open well in front of the school, said district superintendent of police Panka Shrivastava.
The driver jumped off before the vehicle plunged into the water and fled, the SP said, adding that a search was on for him.
The well was uncovered but fenced with barbed wire. The van broke through it and slowly slipped in as children were trapped inside, he said.
The well, 25 feet deep, was almost full to the brim, the SP said. Chief Minister Kamal Nath mourned the deaths, terming the incident as "very unfortunate".
"My condolences are with the parents of the kids who died. The (surviving) kids should be treated till they recover fully....The incident will be investigated thoroughly, the guilty will be punished and dealt with severely," he tweeted.