At least 12 people died and five others were injured on Tuesday when a train and a van collided in the eastern Ukrainian region of Sumskaya, bordering on Russia, authorities said.

The commuter train plowed into the van at a level crossing near the town of Vira around 3:28 p.m., they said.

Apparently, the train dragged the van - which was carrying mainly students and teachers who were returning home after the school day - for some 300 meters (yards).

Railway officials said the van's driver ignored the stoplight prohibiting people from proceeding through the crossing and this was the cause of the collision.

President Viktor Yanukovych ordered the government to determine the circumstances surrounding the accident and assist the victims of the tragedy.

In 2010, 45 people died in a similar accident between a train and a bus in the eastern region of Dniepropetrovsk, the worst transportation accident in Ukraine's history. EFE