SHIMLA - At least 52 people were killed and 45 injured when a heavily overloaded bus plunged into a gorge Saturday in northern India, in one of the worst road accidents in the country in recent years. The bus, which was carrying over 100 passengers - many of them on the roof - veered off the road in a sparsely populated and hilly area of the state of Himachal Pradesh. “Fifty-two people have been killed and 45 injured in the accident,” Sunil Chaudhary, district deputy commissioner, told AFP, adding the death toll could rise because at least a dozen of the injured were in a critical condition.
There were anguished scenes as families came to claim the bodies of the victims. Many of the dead had boarded the 42-seater bus when their own bus broke down, locals told AFP. Some of the bodies were taken away by their families for cremation while the state government brought in four truckloads of wood to cremate other victims at the accident site. The cause was not immediately known but some witnesses said that the driver lost control of the vehicle on a sharp bend. The accident occurred in the morning near Chamba town, about 190 kilometres (120 miles) from the state capital Shimla. The area where the accident happened is treacherous and known for zig-zag turns.