36 Dead In Indian Kashmir Bus Plunge: Official

8 May 2008

Jammu: At least 36 people were killed and six injured after a bus plunged into a river in Indian Kashmir on Thursday, with police saying the death toll could rise further. 'The death toll has risen to 36 and more security forces have been deployed to fish out the bodies,' said Jammu administrative official Sudanshu Pandey, after visiting the accident site. Earlier, officials said 26 people had died. 'Nine more bodies have been recovered from the site of the accident,' said Pandey. One survivor of the bus crash died in hospital, he added, while six others were still being treated for severe injuries. Pandey said that security forces were still searching for bodies in the Chenab River, which flows into Pakistan. Officials have been unable to confirm the exact number of passengers on the 42-seater bus. The driver was killed in the accident. But with Indian buses often packed over capacity, officials appeared to expect the death toll to rise. The bus was heading from Jammu, the state's winter capital, to Kishtwar district, 240 kilometres (150 miles) to the northeast. Rescue work was slow since the fast-flowing Chenab is fed by glacial snow melt, police said. Bus accidents are common in India because of a mix of bad roads, overcrowding and poor maintenance of vehicles.