Evening Express

Dozens killed as bus carrying pilgrims plunges into gorge in India

A bus carrying pilgrims from a Hindu temple in the hills of southern India has plunged off a road, killing at least 55 people including four children, officials said.

The driver lost control as he hit a speed bump on a road leading from the popular Anjaneya Swamy temple in Telangana state, about 120 miles from state capital Hyderabad, said transport minister P Maneder Reddy.

At least 33 others were injured as the overcrowded bus pitched into a gorge.

Crowds often throng the temple on Tuesdays. The site is dedicated to the Hindu god Hanuman, and Tuesdays are seen as auspicious for offering prayers to him.

Rescuers carry passengers away from the bus (KK Production/AP)

Passers-by rushed to help after the bus crashed. Volunteers crawled into the bus through broken windows, carrying the dead and injured though thick grass and up the hill to the road. The injured were taken to local hospitals.

Broadcaster ETV showed chaotic scenes at a hospital in Jagtiyal, where people wailed over bodies in a mortuary.

Mr Reddy said at a news conference that the bus depot manager had been suspended.

“The bus was carrying more passengers than allowed,” he said, adding that the accident appeared to have been caused by a brake failure.

An investigation has been ordered into the cause, officials said.

Among those killed was the bus driver, who lost both his legs in the accident and died in hospital.

“The bus accident in Telangana’s Jagtial district is shocking beyond words,” prime minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet.

President Ram Nath Kovind said that he was shocked to learn about the accident.

Around 150,000 people die every year on India’s roads, often because of reckless driving, badly maintained roads and vehicles overcrowded with passengers.