Gwalior, March 23: Twelve women and a man were killed after the auto-rickshaw carrying them collided with a speeding bus in Old Chawni area in Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday morning, police said.

The accident occurred around 5:30 am when the women, who were cooks at an 'anganwadi kendra' in Stone Park area under Old Chawni Ganga Malanpur locality, were returning home after work, Gwalior collector Kaushlendra Vikram Singh said.

While eight women and the auto-rickshaw driver died on the spot, the others succumbed to their injuries in a hospital, district SP Amit Sanghi said.

Passengers travelling in the bus escaped unhurt, a senior official said, adding that the driver of the bus fled the spot leaving behind the vehicle, which has been seized.

The bus was on its way to Morena from Gwalior when the accident occurred.

The collector said the women were supposed to travel in two auto-rickshaws after they finished cooking food at the Anganwadi, but as one of them developed a snag at the last moment, they had to travel in one auto-rickshaw, which met with the accident.

"We are investigating the circumstances of the accident and the exact cause," the official said.

Madhya Pradesh energy minister Pradyumna Singh Tomar reached the spot soon after the accident.

No injuries were caused to the bus passengers, he said.

The victims were residents of Gole ka Mandir and Jaderua area in Gwalior.

Meanwhile, the Regional Transport Officer (RTO) of Gwalior, MPS Chouhan, has been suspended by the state government, an official said.

Expressing grief, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced an ex-gratia of Rs four lakh each to the kin of the victims.

Rajya Sabha MP Jyotiraditya Scindia of BJP and Madhya Pradesh Congress president Kamal Nath have expressed condolences.

The deceased are identified as Rachna Rathore (34), Sarita Rathore (37), Anita (37), Asha Rathore (45), Rajendri (40), Usha Jatav (37) Usha (45), Maya Devi (65), Harbobai (65), Munni Pal (55), Guddi (40), Laksmi (27) and Dharmendra Parihar (35), the auto driver, additional superintendent of police Pankaj Pande said. - PTI