SHIMLA, India (AFP) - An overcrowded minibus fell into a deep gorge in India's northern Himalayan region after a portion of the road caved in, killing 14 people, an official said Sunday (May 8).
Another 41 people were injured when the bus heading towards the popular tourist destination of Kinnaur rolled into the steep valley in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh state late Saturday.
"The death toll has risen to 14 while 41 others are injured," Sandeep Kadam, a senior state government official, told AFP.
The driver of the bus and a six-year-old girl were among those killed in the accident.
Karam Singh, a survivor, said the bus was packed beyond capacity as he described the horror when the vehicle started hurtling down.
"The driver was allowing another vehicle coming from the opposite side to cross when a small portion of the road caved in," Singh said.
The bus, packed with more than 55 people, was coming from the hill town of Dharamsala, the seat of Tibet's government-in-exile.
Rescuers had managed to pull out all the bodies from the accident site, with state Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh flying in to meet the families of the victims Sunday.
Singh also ordered an immediate investigation into the tragedy.
Fatal traffic accidents are common in India, which has some of the world's deadliest roads with more than 200,000 fatalities annually, according to the World Health Organisation.
Last month, a bus carrying performing artists plunged into a gorge in the east of the country, killing at least 27 people.
And in February, a packed passenger bus plunged off a bridge into a river in western India, killing at least 37 people in one of the country's deadliest road accidents in recent years.
Transport analysts attribute the huge number of accidents to poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.