At least 37 people have been killed and 18 others injured after a bus rolled down a steep slope onto another road in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Wednesday, officials said.
The 42-seater bus was on the way to southern Jammu city from Kishtwar town when it veered off the road in a remote area and fell down about 660 feet on an older road in the mountainous region, said Harvinder Singh, a civil administrator.
Residents and authorities rushed to the scene and a rescue operation was launched.
Mr Singh said the injured were taken to nearby health facilities while at least four in critical condition were taken to hospital in Jammu.
A young girl was seen being stretchered into the hospital while a woman held her head and cried.
Meanwhile a man with a bloodied bandage wrapped around his head was placed in the back of an ambulance.
The exact cause of the crash was not immediately known but police officer Sunil Gupta said the bus was overcrowded and speeding. He said a formal investigation has been ordered.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the accident “distressing,” on X, formerly known as Twitter, and offered condolences to the victims’ families. He also announced financial aid to the equivalent of about £1,932 to each of the victims’ families and about £483 tor each of the injured.
India has some of the highest road death rates in the world, with hundreds of thousands of people killed and injured annually. Most crashes are blamed on reckless driving, poorly maintained roads and aging vehicles.
Last year, a century-old cable suspension bridge collapsed into a river in the western Indian state of Gujarat, sending hundreds plunging into the water and killing at least 132 in one of the worst accidents in the country in the past decade.
Photos of the scene show the mangled frame of the bus in a heap with its red velvet seats exposed.
The scene of the crash