At least 27 children aged 10 to 12 die as Indian school bus plunges 200 feet into a gorge
Three adults were also killed in the crash off a mountain road in the foothills of the Himalayas
At least 27 children were killed Monday when their school bus skidded off a mountain road and plunged 200 feet (60 metres) into a gorge in the foothills of the Himalayas, officials said.
Three adults were also killed in the crash, Himachal Pradesh state transport minister Govind Singh Takur told the Press Trust of India news agency. Most of the students aboard were aged between 10 and 12 years and hailed from a local school. At least a dozen people were taken to area hospitals.
“I am deeply anguished by the loss of lives,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet. “My prayers and solidarity with those who lost their near and dear ones.”
Initial reports indicated that the bus driver was speeding and lost control at the edge of the gorge, with the bus crashing to the ground below, said police officer Sunil Kumar.
The accident occurred in the Kangra Valley, about 300 miles (500 kilometres) north of New Delhi.
The bus was transporting children studying at a school in Nurpur town, 185 miles (300 kilometres) from Shimla, the state capital of Himachal Pradesh.
Rescuers were still digging through the wreckage after nightfall looking for more survivors, Kumar said.
India’s roads, particularly in the hills, have long been feared for their deep potholes, reckless drivers and, very often, a lack of crash barriers.
The country has the world’s deadliest roads, with almost 150,000 people killed in accidents in 2015, the latest government data shows.
Last month, a truck carrying a wedding party drove off a bridge in western India killing 30 people, mostly women and children.
In December, 32 people died when their bus swerved off a bridge into a riverbed in Rajasthan state.
Last July, a bus rolled off a cliff around 100 kilometres from Shimla, a hill resort popular with tourists, claiming 28 lives.
Last April, 44 people were killed in a similar accident in Himachal Pradesh.
This article includes additional reporting by Agence France-Presse.