At least 44 passengers were killed and 30 injured when a bus carrying them fell in a gorge in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh, officials said on Friday. The number of deaths could rise further rise as several passengers were travelling on the roof of the bus, they said. The private bus plunged into a 500-feet deep gorge near the Dhoth Morh in Banjar tehsil of the district. The bus was on its way to Gada Gushaini, about 60 km from Kullu.
Kullu police chief Shalini Agnihotri said authorities launched a rescue operation immediately. It appeared over-crowding contributed to the accident, Sheetal Kumar, a government official, said. Video footages of the accident site 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.
Most of the victims were residents of various areas in Kullu district. The district administration announced an immediate relief of Rs. 50,000 each to the families of those killed and the injured. Himachal Pradesh is prone to deadly accidents. According to official data analysed by advocacy group SaveLIFE Foundation, around 1,200 people have died each year from road accidents in the state between 2014 and 2017.