TWENTY-seven people, including 23 school children, have been killed in a horror bus crash in India’s rugged Himalayan mountains.
The bus plunged 60 metres down the side of a mountain in the Kangra Valley, 500km north of New Delhi, after the driver, who was reportedly speeding at the time, lost control at the edge of a gorge.
Four adults, including the bus driver and two teachers, and 23 elementary school children, some as young as four, died in the crash. Eleven children survived and were hospitalised with injuries of varying degree.
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It’s being described by officials as the worst school bus accident in the region in recent years.
According to the Times of India, who cited local police, villagers acted as first responders and rushed down to the wreckage the moment they heard the bus smash into the rocks.
Kangra SP Santosh Patial told the Times the bus was ‘crushed’ on impact.
“We had to cut open the body of the bus to pull out the victims and survivors,” he said.
Of the 23 children who died at the scene, 13 were boys and 10 were girls – all aged between 5 and 14.
Khwara village alone lost at least 13 of its residents in the crash, including 12 children. A mass cremation will take place there on Tuesday.
Officials fear the death toll may rise, however, as at least three of the 11 surviving children are said to be in a critical condition.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to express his condolences after learning of the death toll.
“I am deeply anguished by the loss of lives,” he said.
“My prayers and solidarity with those who lost their near and dear ones.”