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This photograph provided by Deputy Commissioner's office, Kullu, shows the wreckage of a passenger that bus slid off a mountain road and fell into a deep gorge near Kullu, Himachal Pradesh state, India, on July 4, 2022. Image Credit: AP

NEW DELHI: A passenger bus slid off a mountain road and fell into a deep gorge in northern India on Monday, killing 16 people, including schoolchildren, a government official said.

Rescue workers pulled out the badly injured from the wreckage of the vehicle and sent them to a hospital, Ashutosh Garg, a senior administrator for the district of Kullu in Himachal Pradesh state, told news agency Press Trust of India.

Another official, Prashant Sirkek Singh, said about 20 passengers were travelling in the bus.

Photos shared on social media showed responders trying to rescue survivors from the mangled hulk of the yellow bus. The exact cause of the crash was not immediately known.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed sorrow over the accident.

Modi has approved an ex-gratia of R200,000 each from PMNRF for the kin of the deceased in the Kullu school bus accident.

“Prime Minister has approved an ex-gratia of Rs200,000 each from PMNRF for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the tragic bus accident in Himachal Pradesh. The injured would be given Rs 50,000 each,” stated PMO.

“The bus accident in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh is heart-rending. In this tragic hour, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. I hope those injured recover at the earliest. The local administration is providing all possible assistance to those affected,” added the PM.

Deadly road accidents are common in India due to reckless driving, poorly maintained roads and aging vehicles. More than 110,000 people are killed every year in road accidents across India, according to police.