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Thirty-three die as bus falls into Indian river

Residents and police try to rescue people after a bus veered off the road in Ashapuri, India,on September 11, 2012
Residents and police try to rescue people after a bus veered off the road and tumbled into a gorge in Ashapuri, India, on September 11, 2012. At least 33 people died Wednesday when an overcrowded bus skidded off the road into a fast-flowing river in north

At least 33 people died Wednesday when an overcrowded bus skidded off the road into a fast-flowing river in northern India, police said.

"So far, 33 bodies have been retrieved from the river and 14 other people are injured and have been rushed to hospital," local police chief R.S. Negi told AFP from the crash site in Hamachal Pradesh state.

The accident occurred near the popular summer resort of Kullu, 250 kilometres (155 miles) from Himachal Pradesh state capital Shimla.

Negi said the death toll was likely to rise as some victims appeared to have been washed away in the fast-flowing waters of the Beas river which courses through the mountainous Indian state.

The officer said it was not immediately clear how many people were on board the bus, which was on its way to a village from Kullu when it slid off the road.

Local reports said the bus was completely submerged in the water.

Wednesday's crash is the worst reported road accident in India since March, when 37 people were reported dead after a passenger bus plunged off a bridge spanning a river in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.

A total of 131,834 people died in road accidents in India in 2011, according to the government's National Crime Records Bureau, which works out at 15 an hour.

Bad roads, speeding vehicles and poor driving were among the contributing factors, and bus crashes with a double-digit death toll are far from rare.

The World Health Organization's global status report on road safety 2013 found that eight percent of India's road user deaths were bus drivers or passengers while 32 percent were riders of motorbikes or three-wheelers.

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