NEW DELHI: Fifty people died in southern India on Tuesday (Sep 11) when a bus taking pilgrims from a temple plunged into a valley, an official said, in the latest horrific crash on the country's roads.
The bus carrying 80 people was returning from the famous Hindu temple of Kondagattu Anjaneya Swamy in the hilly southern state of Telangana when it skidded off the road.
"We have pulled out the bodies and we are taking them to the hospital for autopsy," B Rajesham, a senior administrative official, told AFP.
Another local official G Narendhar added: "More than half of those killed were women, and there were at least three children."
Passengers who survived the accident in Jagtial district of Telangana state were being treated for injuries. An investigation has been ordered.
Broken glass, slippers and luggage lay scattered next to lifeless bodies that were lined up at the scene, as locals pulled out survivors from the mangled vehicle.
Television footage showed local residents carrying the injured up a hill after pulling them out from the mangled bus.
Some rescuers climbed onto the bus and others tried to reach the injured through the front portion which was completely smashed.
NDTV quoted witnesses as saying the driver was speeding and lost control of the vehicle. The Hindu daily said it careened off the road on a sharp corner.
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao expressed shock and announced 500,000 rupees (US$7,000) each for the families of the deceased.
Accidents on India's notorious roads claim the lives of more than 150,000 people each year.
Most accidents are blamed on poor roads, badly-maintained vehicles and reckless driving.
On Jul 28 a bus carrying university workers plunged off a mountain road into a valley in western India, killing 33 people.
That vehicle was taking staff from the Dapoli Agriculture University to a popular hill station in the state of Maharashtra for a picnic.
The same month 48 people were killed and many others badly injured in the north of the country when an overcrowded bus hurtled into a gorge in the Himalayan foothills.