Nepal bus crash kills 29, injures 12: Police

KATHMAND (AFP) - At least 29 people were killed and 12 injured when a bus veered off a narrow mountain road in thick fog in western Nepal on Saturday, a police officer said.

The vehicle tumbled 600m down a steep hill in Doti district after the driver lost control on the road to the south-western plains bordering India, said police officer Nara Bahadur Air.

"Twenty-nine passengers have been killed in the crash. Twelve passengers who have been seriously injured are being treated in hospital, 50 km from the site," he said.

The bus had 35 passengers registered at its last checkpoint but drivers on rural routes tend to pick up passengers along the way and police suspect the death toll could rise much higher when the crash site in Chhatiwan village is searched.

"The area where the accident occurred has light forest cover ... We don't know the cause of the accident yet but locals have told us that it was foggy during the night," the police official said.

Police were called when a man driving by the crash sight heard the screams of survivors, around half an hour after the crash.

"We have deployed 50 policemen but they have told us the rescue efforts have been hampered because the bus is stuck on a precipice."

Accidents are relatively common on Nepal's highways because of poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving, and death tolls running into double figures are frequent.

In September last year, 27 people were killed when a bus veered off a mountain road in western Nepal, while 38 pilgrims died on an overcrowded bus carrying them from India to a Hindu festival in southern Nepal two months earlier.