NEW DELHI — A speeding school bus plunged off a mountainside in northern India on Monday, killing 23 children and four adults, an official said. Several children managed to survive.
The bus, the authorities said, was carrying elementary school students from a private school in the state of Himachal Pradesh in the Himalayan foothills when it swerved and fell hundreds of feet into a deep ravine around 3:15 p.m. local time.
The bus was carrying 40 people and the children who died were between the ages of 4 and 12, said Prabodh Saxena, the principal secretary of the state government.
“It is not clear why the bus crashed,” Saxena said. “We have called for an inquiry.”
One surviving boy, 10-year-old Ranveer Singh, told The Hindustan Times he was thrown through a window and rolled down the side of the gorge.
“I heard a loud bang and bus starting rolling down the hill,” Ranveer told the paper. “Just then the window near my seat broke and I and a girl sitting by my side fell out.”
That girl, along with several other students, survived the crash. A convoy of cars and bicycles made up of passers-by rushed to bring injured students to a nearby hospital before ambulances arrived at the scene near the town of Nurpur.
Between 300 and 400 locals “worked like monkeys” to rush down to the crash site and rescue trapped passengers, he said.
Pathania said 12 of the children are still in the hospital, and that one of them was in critical condition.
Among the dead were the bus driver, two female teachers and an unidentified person who hitched a ride on the bus, Saxena said.
The bodies of two dozen children, all under the age of 13, were taken to the government mortuary in Nurpur.
“I am deeply anguished by the loss of lives,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India said on Twitter. “My prayers and solidarity with those who lost their near and dear ones.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.