A crowded minibus veered off a mountain road and fell into a gorge Thursday, killing at least 22 people in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, a district official said.

Santu Lal said police and volunteers pulled 22 bodies from the 500-foot-deep gorge near Sangla town in the Himalayan foothills.

Rescuers used ropes to climb down into the gorge and pull out 17 people who were injured, Lal said.

Another district official, Vidya Pal, said 12 people in serious condition were taken by helicopter to the state capital, Shimla.

Sangla is about 385 miles north of New Delhi.

India has the world's deadliest roads, with more than 110,000 people killed annually. Most crashes are blamed on reckless driving, poorly maintained roads and aging vehicles.