Kathmandu/New Delhi: At least 36 Indians were among 40 people killed today when an overcrowded bus carrying Hindu pilgrims from India to a temple in Nepal veered off the road and fell into a deep canal, authorities in Delhi and Kathmandu said.
The apparently overloaded bus plunged into an irrigation canal on the Gandak river, close to Parasi town near the India-Nepal border.
Officials in Kathmandu and New Delhi said the bus was taking the pilgrims – mostly from Uttar Pradesh – to the Hindu pilgrimage site of Triveni, 100 km from Kathmandu.
Police said the bus was carrying about 75 passengers and many of them were riding on its roof.
Police superintendent Gyan Bikram Shah told reporters that the driver of the bus lost control on the road that was slippery because of rainfall.
Another police officer, Deepak Raya, said the bus fully submerged in the river water after veering off the road.
A statement from the external affairs ministry in Delhi said most of the Indian victims were from Maharajganj district of Uttar Pradesh and had gone to attend the Bolbum festival in Triveni.
Till late evening, 27 people were rescued alive. And of these, 10 were Indians.
Officials feared that the death toll might go up.
India has set up an information centre up at the embassy in Kathmandu and concerned officials can be contacted at 00-977-1-4412125 and 4411699 (extension 4109).
A special India team, including a doctor, has left for the accident site to assist Nepalese authorities in the relief and rescue operations, the statement said.
Nepal Army and Armed Police Force personnel along with local residents were carrying out rescue works. The number of casualties could rise, the official added.