South Asia

Nepal bus plunges off mountain road 'killing 41'


At least 41 people were killed when a bus veered off a mountain road into a river in eastern Nepal, police say.

Other passengers are missing after the accident in remote Sindhuli district, about 100km (62 miles) from Kathmandu.

The bus swerved on a stretch of road, lost control and plummeted 400 metres from a cliff into the Sunkosi river, police told the BBC.

Buses are often overcrowded in Nepal and accidents on poorly maintained mountain roads are common.

Police, soldiers and villagers had a hard time reaching the wreckage of the bus which broke into several pieces. Parts of the vehicle are reported to have been caught up in nearby trees.

A number of people are feared to have been swept away by the fast-flowing river which in a remote area. At least 16 people were injured.

'Technical problems'

"We don't yet know whether people were travelling on the rooftop [of] this bus," Sindhuli chief district officer Beni Madhav Gyawali told the BBC.

"But the number of passengers certainly exceeded the number of seats."

Image caption Survivors told the BBC that the accident took place so quickly they barely realised what had happened

Mr Gyawali said a preliminary investigation had indicated that the accident took place because of the roughness of the road coupled with "technical problems" of the bus.

Police say that about 60 people were travelling on it or in it when the accident happened.

Nepal's packed buses are even more crowded than normal at this time of the year as people travel back to work from their home villages at the end of the two-week national festival, Dashain.

Accidents are also more frequent because monsoon rainfall triggers landslides and make treacherous roads more slippery.

Police say the bus in the accident was travelling along the BP Koirala Highway, a narrow road with hairpin bends that in many places is wide enough only to allow one vehicle to pass.

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