NEW DELHI (AFP, XINHUA) - At least 40 passengers were killed when a bus plunged into a canal in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday (Feb 16), officials said, as recovery efforts continued.
The accident happened when the bus, which was carrying more than 50 passengers, veered off the road and into the water near the village of Satna early on Tuesday morning.
It was unclear what caused the bus to swerve, but India's vast network of roads are poorly maintained and notoriously dangerous.
Local media reported that the bus was completely submerged, and images showed officials in orange life jackets using rescue boats to look for survivors.
According to media reports, seven people, including the driver, managed to swim to safety.
"We have so far found 37 bodies and they have been sent for autopsy. Search and rescue operations are under way," said district police superintendent Dharamveer Singh.
Local officials stopped the release of water into the canal, which sped up the rescue operations and allowed two cranes to pull the bus out, reports said.
The Times of India newspaper quoted sources as saying it took three hours to lift the vehicle out.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office tweeted that the families of those killed would receive 200,000 rupees (S$3,600) in compensation.
"The entire state is standing with those affected," Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said in a video message.
India has the world's deadliest roads, with 151,113 people killed in accidents in 2019, an average of 414 a day or 17 an hour, according to a government report.