Nepal bus crash toll reaches 47
24 November 2014, 08:05
Kathmandu - The death toll from a bus crash in western Nepal jumped to 47 after rescuers retrieved 44 more bodies from a deep, fast-flowing river, police said on Monday.
"The confirmed death toll so far is 47," said Dinesh Raj Mainali, police chief of Jajarkot district where the accident occurred.
The bus plunged into a deep, fast-flowing river in western Nepal on Thursday, with at least 24 passengers feared dead, officials said.
Divers were desperately searching for passengers of the bus which was carrying at least 45 people when it veered off a narrow road in Jajarkot region, police officer Sher Bahadur Chaudhary said.
"At least two dozen passengers are feared dead," Chaudhary told AFP from Jajarkot.
Search and rescue efforts were being hampered by the Bheri river's strong current, while the bus itself was completely under water. Army officers and police were also involved in the search that included scouring the river banks.
Scores of weeping relatives gathered at the river anxious for news of their loved ones.
Jajarkot police chief Dinesh Raj Mainali said rescue workers had found three bodies, including those of two children, correcting his earlier remarks that five victims had been discovered.
"We had earlier on-the-ground reports saying that five were found, but I have only been able to confirm news about three bodies," Mainali told AFP from the scene.
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Police have taken ten injured passengers to a nearby hospital for treatment, he said.
District official Shivraj Sedhain said search operations, which were ending as darkness fell over the region, would resume at first light Friday.
"It's getting dark and the water current is too fast, preventing our divers from making progress at the moment," Sedhain told AFP.
"We will request more help from Kathmandu and restart our search tomorrow," he said.
Police official Chaudhary said he feared the number of people on board may have been higher than the official passenger list since drivers often pick up extra travellers along the route without registering them.
Accidents are common on Nepal's highways because of poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.
At least ten people, including a Russian woman, died this month when two buses collided along a national highway in central Nepal.
Last month a crowded bus plunged down a hill in a town outside Kathmandu, killing at least 14 people, including two Israelis.
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