A passenger bus carrying about 40 people drove off a road and plunged into a river on Thursday, killing at least 13 passengers, a news agency reported.

About 17 people were trapped inside the bus and were feared drowned.

Divers were dispatched to the scene after the bus drove into the Kelkit River shortly after midnight in the central province of Tokat, about 200 miles east of Ankara, local official Ferhat Kurtoglu said.

Rescue teams recovered the bodies of 13 passengers, including two that had drifted about 12 miles away from the crash site, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Ten passengers were pulled to safety with ropes after climbing on the roof of the bus, Anatolia said. One passenger managed to free himself and walked to a nearby village for help.

The bus was traveling from Istanbul to the eastern city of Van, near the Iranian border.