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Bus carrying Hindu pilgrims to a shrine in India plunges down 150-foot gorge, killing 22 people

New Delhi — At least 22 people were killed and more than 70 others injured when a bus veered off a mountain road Thursday and plunged into a 150-foot gorge in the Akhnoor area of northern India's Jammu region. The bus was carrying pilgrims to the Shiv Khori shrine, a popular Hindu holy site in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir state.

The victims include at least eight women and two children, according to government officials.

"It seems like a human error," Rajinder Singh Tara, Jammu and Kashmir state's Transport Commissioner, told reporters. "The driver perhaps could not negotiate the sharp turn on the road, resulting in the bus going down into the gorge."

A man injured in a bus accident in Akhnoor, northern India, is brought to a hospital in Jammu, May 30, 2024. AFP/Getty

The state Transport Department ordered an investigation into the cause of the accident.

People injured in the crash were rescued by teams of police and local residents and taken to the Government Medical College hospital in Jammu for treatment.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was "anguished by the loss of lives" in the accident. He announced that each family of a person killed in the crash would receive 200,000 Indian rupees (approximately $2,400) from the government, and 50,000 Indian rupees (approximately $600) for the families of those injured.

The state's Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha described the accident as "heart-rending" and announced a separate compensation package for the victims.

Much of northern India is nestled in Himalayan mountains and surrounding hills, where high altitude roads are often narrow and feature many sharp curves, making them prone to accidents.

In November last year, at least 39 people were killed and 19 injured in a similar accident in the state's Doda district — when a passenger bus fell into a 300-foot gorge.

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