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At Least 44 Students Killed in Bus Accident in Western India


In Western India, at least 44 school students were killed when a bus plunged into a river. Anjana Pasricha has a report from New Delhi.

The tragedy occurred early Wednesday, when dozens of school students were on a school bus, traveling to take an examination near Vadodara, in western Gujarat state.

The head of Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation, G.R. Aloriya, says the bus veered off a bridge and plowed through a concrete railing and into a deep canal.

"Mostly students were there. [From] Five, six villages, the students boarded the bus in the morning because of exams," said Aloriya. "On Narmada bridge, the driver lost the control and it plunged into the main canal. The accident happened very close to the town. "

Rescue teams rushed to the site to pull the passengers out of the river, but they could only rescue a handful of survivors. Dozens of students in the bus died. Three adults, including the driver of the bus, were also killed.

Officials say several passengers are still missing.

Grieving parents and relatives crowded the bridge. Many tried to revive their children as they were brought out from the canal. Many of the victims were girls.

Authorities say they will investigate the cause of Wednesday's accident.

Analysts have been drawing attention to the high number of road accidents in India. Last year, nearly 95,000 people died in road accidents.

Rohit Baluja, who heads the Institute of Road Traffic Education in New Delhi, says many factors - including a lack of road safety and poor driving skills - are to blame.

"Higher speeds, no management, no enforcement, lack of traffic engineering and drivers not being aware of the hazards, driver training is a big handicap, and all these factors combined together are actually responsible," said Baluja.

Schools buses have been involved in several fatal accidents in the past year. Last December, at least 19 people died in the northern state of Punjab after a school bus collided with a train at a railway crossing, apparently because of poor visibility.

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