At least 30 people, including 27 children, were killed on Monday after a school bus with an estimated 40 students on board fell into a deep gorge near Malkwal in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district, The Times of India reported. The students were from the Wazir Ram Singh Memorial Public School.
The bus driver, 67-year-old Madan Lal, and two teachers also died in the accident, the police told PTI. At least 13 people were seriously injured and taken to the hospital in Pathankor, but one of them succumbed to the injuries.
The government has ordered a team of 50 doctors at the local government hospital in Kangra to stay ready to treat the injured. Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur announced an immediate relief of Rs five lakh to the family of the deceased.
Eyewitnesses told the Hindustan Times that a number of students were trapped in the bus. The bus reportedly fell into the gorge when it was driving down a sharp curve, Superintendent of Police Santosh Patial told The Times of India.
The National Disaster Response Force has been deployed and rescue operations are underway with the help of local residents, Thakur said. A magisterial investigation has also been ordered.
“I am deeply anguished by the loss of lives due to a bus accident in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter. “My prayers and solidarity with those who lost their near and dear ones in the accident.”
Congress President Rahul Gandhi said he was “deeply disturbed” by the accident. “I urge our Congress party workers in Himachal to provide all the assistance they can, to the families of the victims and to those who are injured,” he said.