KATMANDU, Nepal – An overcrowded bus plunged off a mountain road in western Nepal on Saturday, leaving at least 42 people dead and 45 injured, police said.
The bus was traveling near the town of Tribeni, some 250 miles west of Katmandu, when it skidded off the road, plunging about 950 feet into a ravine below, police officer Birkha Bahadur Rawal said.
Police were investigating the cause, but Rawal said an initial probe indicated the driver may have lost control of the vehicle because it was overloaded with passengers. It was not known whether the driver survived, police said.
Some of the passengers jumped off the bus before it crashed and survived, indicating several people were riding on the roof, a common practice in rural Nepal where not much public transportation is available.
A ticket taker on the bus, Jeevan Nepali, said from his hospital bed that the bus was unable to pick up speed on the slopes and the driver stopped. The bus then rolled backward and veered off the road into the ravine.
The bus was traveling toward the southern town of Dang, when the crash occurred.
Among those killed, 32 died on the spot while eight died on the way to the hospital and two while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Dang, Rawal said. A dozen of the 45 injured were in critical condition and hospitalized.
Deadly road accidents are common in Nepal, often caused by poor roads and aging overcrowded vehicles.