SHIMLA: Thirty people, including 27 students, were killed on Monday when a private school bus fell into a gorge in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, police said.
Superintendent of Police Santosh Patyal said all the killed students were in the age of 10 to 12, while the bus driver and two women teachers were among the victims.
Local villagers had begun rescue operation even before officials could reach the spot, eyewitnesses said.
Around 45 students of Wazir Ram Singh Pathania Memorial Public School were returning home when the bus skidded off road and fell into the 100-feet deep gorge near Gurchal village on the Nurpur-Chamba road, some 300 km from the state capital.
Teams of local administration and the National Disaster Response Force were involved in the rescue and faced tough time in pulling out the victims from the mangled bus.
Thirteen of the injured were referred to hospitals in Pathankot in Punjab. One of them died in a hospital, while 12 students were admitted with critical injuries.
The rescue operation was almost over, said an official.
"Prima facie, negligent driving and over-speeding are the main reasons for the accident," he added.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, Governor Acharya Devvrat and Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda condoled the deaths.
A magisterial inquiry has been ordered.
The government has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 500,000 to the next of kin of each of those killed and free treatment to those injured.
Food and Civil Supplies Minister Kishan Kapoor along with local legislator Rakesh Pathania and Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Kumar reached the spot to supervise rescue and relief operation.