(MENAFN- Gulf Times) At least 30 people, including 27 children, were killed yesterday in Himachal Pradesh when a school bus plunged into a deep ravine in the Himalayan foothills, police said.
The bus carrying young students flew off a cliff near Nurpur, about 325km from the state capital Shimla, and crashed into a valley.
'The bus rolled into a 200ft-deep gorge, killing 27 schoolchildren, two teachers and the driver, police official Santosh Patialma said from the scene in Kangra district in the northern state.
Most of the students aboard were aged between 10 and 12 years and hailed from a local school, he added.
Twelve had been rushed to hospital, most in a critical condition.
Onlookers rushed to search the mangled yellow bus upturned on the valley slope for survivors.
Images from the scene showed injured children being carried away bloodied and bruised, some on stretchers and others in the arms of bystanders.
The state government has announced Rs500,000 ($7,700) in compensation for each victim's family.
The students of Wazir Ram Singh Pathania Memorial Public School were returning home when the accident occurred.
'Prima facie, negligent driving and over-speeding are the main reasons for the accident, an official said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences to the families of those killed.
'I am deeply anguished by the loss of lives due to a bus accident in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. My prayers and solidarity with those who lost their near and dear ones in the accident, his office tweeted.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi urged his party workers in Himachal Pradesh to provide all the assistance they can to the families of the victims and those who are injured.
'I'm deeply disturbed and saddened by the bus accident, Gandhi tweeted.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, Governor Acharya Devvrat and federal Health Minister J P Nadda also expressed grief over the deaths.
Food and Civil Supplies Minister Kishan Kapoor along with local legislator Rakesh Pathania and Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Kumar arrived on the scene to supervise rescue and relief operation.
India has some of the world's deadliest roads.
More than 150,000 people are killed each year with most accidents blamed on poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.
Last month, a truck carrying a wedding party drove off a bridge in western India killing 30 people, mostly women and children.
Nine children were killed in February when a vehicle crashed into them outside their school in an apparent hit-and-run.
And thirty-two people died in late December when their bus swerved off a bridge into a riverbed in Rajasthan.
Lives are frequently lost in India's remote, mountainous northern reaches, where narrow hairpin turns cut paths into the steep Himalayan foothills.
Last July, a bus rolled off a cliff around 100km from Shimla, a hill resort popular with tourists, claiming 28 lives.
Just a week earlier, 16 pilgrims died in a bus crash in neighbouring Jammu and Kashmir.
In April last year, 44 people were killed in a similar accident in Himachal Pradesh.
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