Bus accident leaves at least 37 dead and 18 injured on Himalayan road in Indian-controlled Kashmir

A man injured after a passenger bus slid off a Himalayan highway is brought for treatment at a government hospital in Jammu, India, Wednesday, Nov.15, 2023. Nearly three dozen people were killed and more than a dozen were injured in the accident. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — A passenger bus slid off a Himalayan highway killing at least 37 people and injuring 18 others after rolling down a steep slope onto another road in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Wednesday, officials said.

The 42-seater bus was on the way to southern Jammu city from Kishtwar town when it veered off the road and fell down about 660 feet (200 meters) on an older road in the mountainous region, said Harvinder Singh, a civil administrator.

Residents and authorities rushed to the scene and a rescue operation was launched.

Singh said the injured were taken to nearby health facilities while at least four in critical condition were transported to hospital in Jammu.

The exact cause of the crash was not immediately known but police officer Sunil Gupta said the bus was overcrowded and speeding. He said a formal investigation has been ordered.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the accident “distressing,” on X, formerly known as Twitter, and offered condolences to the victims’ families. He also announced financial aid of Rs. 2 lakh (about $2400) to each of the victims’ families and Rs. 50,000 (about $600) for each of the injured.

India has some of the highest road death rates in the world, with hundreds of thousands of people killed and injured annually. Most crashes are blamed on reckless driving, poorly maintained roads and aging vehicles.

Last year, a century-old cable suspension bridge collapsed into a river in the western Indian state of Gujarat, sending hundreds plunging into the water and killing at least 132 in one of the worst accidents in the country in the past decade.