Crash sends Indian bus tumbling into well, killing 26

The bus wreckage on Jan 28, 2020, after the vehicle crashed with an autorickshaw in Nashik district, Maharashtra, India. PHOTO: NATIONAL DISASTER RESPONSE FORCE INDIA VIA AFP

MUMBAI (AFP) - Twenty-six people including a seven-year-old girl were killed after the bus they were travelling in crashed with an autorickshaw and fell into a well in western India, officials said Wednesday (Jan 29).

Emergency crews worked through the night to rescue survivors and retrieve bodies and used a crane to remove the red-and-white bus from the well, as hundreds of people throng the crash site after the accident late Tuesday.

Rescue operations ended early on Wednesday in Nashik district, around 254km from India's financial capital Mumbai.

"We conducted rescue operations throughout the night and recovered 26 bodies. Thirty-two injured have been sent for treatment," National Disaster Response Force spokesman Sachidanand Gawde told AFP.

The bus driver was among the dead.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered condolences for the "unfortunate" incident.

"In this hour of sadness, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover at the earliest," Mr Modi tweeted.

India has some of the world's highest traffic fatalities, with more than 150,000 deaths annually due to poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.

Experts say many highways and roads suffer from design flaws, making rides a daily risk, particularly during winter, when visibility drops considerably.

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