More than 30 people were killed on early Saturday morning when a tour bus carrying pilgrims plunged off a bridge in central India, police said on Sunday. Nearly two dozen others were injured, some of them seriously.
The accident occurred at around 2:40 a.m. local time in Osmanabad district, located in the Indian state of Maharashtra, when a bus carrying more than 55 Hindu pilgrims fell off a bridge. The vehicle fell nearly 25 feet (7.6 meters) and overturned at least twice before it came to a stop.
Emergency teams rushed to the scene and transported the survivors to the Solapur Civil Hospital, where at least three of the victims remained in a critical but stable condition on Sunday. Police said a total of 32 pilgrims were killed while 21 others were injured. The bus driver survived without serious injuries.
The bus, which was owned by the private Sree Kaleswari tour company, was returning from a pilgrimage to the Shirdi Saibaba Temple in the Ahmednagar district. The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, although some passengers alleged the bus driver may have been tired or intoxicated.
India, the world's second most populous nation with more than 1.2 billion citizens, is often the scene of deadly road accidents, many of which are attributed to reckless driving, aging vehicles and overloading. In new figures released in 2010, India overtook China to top the world in road fatalities.
On Thursday, twenty-four people were killed when a truck carrying sacks of salt overturned near Sanand, a municipality in the district of Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat. The sacks of salt, which weigh around 20 kilograms (44 pounds) each, fell on top of dozens of people who were sleeping on top of them. The truck driver fled the scene before emergency services arrived.
According to India's National Crime Records Bureau, approximately 120,000 people are killed in road accidents across the country each year, although the actual figure is believed to be higher. Deaths as the result of road accidents account for up to 40 percent of the country's deaths due to unnatural causes.