At least 25 wedding guests have been killed in a horror bus tragedy after the driver veered into a deep gorge in northern India.
The vehicle was travelling along a treacherous mountain highway in Uttarakhand state when it careened over an edge and plunged at least 1,640ft with around 45 people onboard.
Remarkably, 20 people were rescued, the state’s top police official Ashok Kumar told AFP.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that ‘all possible assistance’ would be given to the survivors.
‘In this tragic hour my thoughts are with the bereaved families,’ he tweeted on Wednesday.
Vijay Kumar Jogdande, a senior government officer, said they would be carrying out an investigation into the incident and will conduct postmortem examinations after retrieving the bodies from the site.
Officials were seen clearing the area of bushes and trees to help with the rescue operation as they pulled up an injured person.
Rescuers also retrieved a dead body using ropes before they were taken away on a stretcher.
Fatal road accidents are common in Uttarakhand, which encompasses part of the Indian Himalayas and is home to numerous religious pilgrimage sites.
Nearly two dozen people were killed in June when their bus plunged into a gorge while en route to a shrine to the Hindu deity Yamuna, north of the state capital Dehradun.
India accounts for 11 percent of the global road death toll despite only having one percent of the world’s vehicles, according to a World Bank report released last year.
The same report estimated 150,000 car crash fatalities in India annually, or one person every four minutes.
It added that road crashes cost the Indian economy around $75 billion each year, with medical expenses and loss of income driving many accident survivors into poverty.