India bus crash kills at least 37

AHMEDABAD, India (AFP) - A packed passenger bus plunged off a bridge into a river in western India Friday killing at least 37 people, an official said, in one of the deadliest road accidents in recent years.

The accident happened when the driver lost control and veered off the road into Purna river in Navsari district, some 285km from Ahmedabad, the main city of Gujarat state.

“The death toll has risen to 37. At least 24 others are admitted to hospital for treatment,” senior administrative official Remya Mohan in Navsari told AFP.

Television images showed locals and rescuers in the water, using their bare hands to shift parts of the mangled bus wreckage and carrying people to ambulances in bedsheets.

The Gujarat government announced 400,000 rupees (S$5,900) in compensation for the families of those killed.

Deadly traffic accidents are common in India, which has some of the world’s deadliest roads.

In October, 15 members of a wedding party, including three children, were killed when a vehicle they were travelling in collided with a bus in southern India.

In 2013, a speeding bus exploded in a ball of flames after crashing into the central reservation of a southern Indian highway, killing 45 passengers as they slept.

India has more than 230,000 fatalities annually, according to the World Health Organisation.

Transport analysts attribute the huge number of accidents to poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.

The government has put forward proposals for new legislation to make roads safer by stiffening lax traffic regulations.