Over 42 passengers were killed and more than 30 injured on Thursday after a bus fell in a gorge in the mountainous Kullu district of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Officials suggest that the number of deaths could rise as several passengers were sitting on top of the bus.
The private bus was filled with nearly 70 people when it plunged into a 500-foot deep gorge near the Dhoth Morh in Banjar tehsil of the district. The bus was on its way to Gada Gushaini, which was about 60 kilometers from Kullu.
Kullu police chief Shalini Agnihotri told news agency AFP that authorities launched a rescue operation immediately and moved the injured to hospitals.
Sheetal Kumar, a government official speaking with the PTI said that too many people onboard and reckless driving may have caused the accident. Television images showed the mangled remains of the bus near a stream at the bottom of the gorge as locals made human chains to help survivors cross it. The injured were taken to the Banjar Civil Hospital and the Kullu district hospital.
PM Narendra Modi, Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Devvrat and Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur expressed grief over the accident. The chief minister has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident.
Officials say that most of the victims were locals, from different areas of Kullu district. The district administration announced an immediate relief of INR₹ 50,000 each to the families of those killed and the injured.
The state of Himachal Pradesh lies in the foothills of the Himalayas, and is mostly mountainous.
Source : Various