India monsoon: Landslide pushes buses into gorge

Heavy machinery removes debris as rescue personnel search for survivors and bodies of victims after a landslide along a highway at Kotrupi Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rescue teams searched for survivors after the landslide

A massive landslide in northern India has swept two packed buses off a hillside into a deep gorge, killing at least 45 people, officials say.

The vehicles had stopped for a break when the landslide, triggered by days of heavy rain, hit a road in Mandi district, in Himachal Pradesh state.

The army has joined the search efforts. Five people have been rescued with severe injuries, reports say.

Landslides are common in India in the monsoon season from July to September.

A stretch of the road, some 200km (124 miles) from state capital Shimla, was completely washed away. Several houses and other vehicles were also destroyed.

Officials said the death toll could rise as some people were still missing.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Indian army was deployed to help in the search efforts

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office said on Twitter that he was "pained by the loss of lives".

The monsoon rains have affected millions of people across at least 20 states in India.

In neighbouring Nepal, floods and landslides caused by heavy rains have killed at least 49 people, officials say.

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