Overloaded bus plunges into gorge in India, killing dozens

At least 48 dead after 28-seater bus went out of control in mountainous Uttarakhand state

The wrecked bus and passengers belongings scattered after the bus fell into a gorge in the hilly Pauri Garhwal district. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The wrecked bus and passengers belongings scattered after the bus fell into a gorge in the hilly Pauri Garhwal district. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

 

At least 48 people were killed and a dozen more injured after an overloaded bus plunged into a gorge in northern India early on Sunday, police said.

The accident occurred in the mountainous state of Uttarakhand, in an area where roads are poorly maintained and often do not have guard rails. Bus safety is a notorious problem in India, but the toll Sunday was particularly high even in a country where deadly crashes are all too common, and the situation was worsened by the fact that the crash site was difficult to reach.

Jagat Ram Joshi, police chief for the district of Pauri Garhwal, where the accident occurred, said it took hours for rescuers to get down the hillside to reach the injured, some of whom were in critical condition. He said it was unclear why the vehicle, which seats 28, had crashed.

“It seems that either the driver lost control on a sharp turn or the road was damaged a little bit,” Joshi said. “The bus was clearly overloaded. You cannot carry 61 people in that bus.”

Trivendra Singh Rawat, chief minister of Uttarakhand, called for an investigation and offered compensation of several thousand dollars to the families of those who had been killed.

Prime minister Narendra Modi also reached out to the families, writing on Twitter that he was “extremely saddened” by the accident.

Road rules are infrequently enforced in India, and few drivers receive training before they get behind the wheel. In April, 13 children were killed after a train rammed into their school bus. The bus driver was listening to loud music through earphones, witnesses said, and did not hear the train approaching.

– New York Times