Forty-eight people have died after a bus plunged into a gorge in India, highlighting the country’s notorious road safety issues.

The bus, which was overcrowded, fell into a 700-foot-deep gorge in the Himalayan foothills, Chief Minister of Uttarakhand state Trivendra Rawat told ABC News. About a dozen other people were injured.

“People were packed like sardines,” said a police officer, Jagat Ram Joshi. Rescuers found 48 bodies in the accident site, Police official Manoj Kumar confirmed. According to The Hindu newspaper, the bus could seat only 28, and the bus was carrying 58.

It’s not clear what caused the crash, but an official said bad weather could have been a factor.

“It is raining (in the area) since morning. Two days back there was a landslide in that area,” senior police official Sanjay Gunjiyal told ABC.

Jagat Ram Joshi, a police chief for the district of Pauri Garhwal, said that it took hours for rescuers to descend to the crash site to reach those who were injured.

“It seems that either the driver lost control on a sharp turn or the road was damaged a little bit,” he told the New York Times. “The bus was clearly overloaded. You cannot carry 61 people in that bus.”

India has the world’s deadliest roads, and more than 110,000 people are killed each year, The Guardian noted. Ageing vehicles, poorly maintained roads, and reckless driving are the primary culprits.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he has reached out to the families of the victims. “Extremely saddened by the bus accident in Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand. My deepest condolences to the bereaved families. I pray that those injured recover at the earliest. Rescue operations are underway and authorities are providing all possible assistance at the accident site,” he wrote on Twitter.

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Categories: India World