In a major road accident, 27 persons, including 23 children, were killed when a private school bus skidded off the road and fell into over 400 feet deep gorge near Nurpur in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh on Monday evening.

The students were returning home from Wazir Ram Singh Pathania Memorial School near Ghurchaal near Nurpur town.

Two teachers and the bus driver were also among those killed, according to an official release by the state headquarters here.

Thirteen children were referred to Pathankot hospital, while two were rushed to Tanda Medical College hospital in Kangra. Out of 13 in Pathankot hospital, one died, and the condition of others was stated to be critical. The rescue operations were on till the filing of this report.

“The rescue operation is on and we are in the process of making the list,” said Superintendent of Police, Kangra, Santosh Patial.

Nurpur MLA, Rakesh Pathania rushed to the spot immediately after the accident and monitored the rescue operations.

The children were below 4-12 years of age and belonged to local villages near Nurpur.

The bus was carrying more than 40 students. According to eyewitnesses, the driver probably lost control over the vehicle and it skidded off the road.

The administration had a tough time in rescue operations, although the local villagers had rushed to the spot after hearing the cries of the children and had begun the rescue operations.

President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed their grief on Twitter.

“Extremely saddened to learn about the tragic school bus accident in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. Thoughts and prayers with the bereaved families and with those injured,” said the President.

 

“I am deeply anguished by the loss of lives due to a bus accident in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. My prayers and solidarity with those who lost their near and dear ones in the accident,” PM Modi wrote.

 

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and expressed grief over the accident and ordered a magisterial inquiry in to the accident to ascertain the cause of accident. He said the state government would provide all possible assistance to family members of deceased children.