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Tuesday, January 13, 1998 Published at 16:35 GMT

World: S/W Asia

Indian bus crash tragedy

At least 60 school children are feared drowned after their bus skidded in fog and plunged into the Bhagirathi river in India's West Bengal state.

Police said the bus was bringing 86 students back from a picnic in the Murshidabad district, 190 kilometers (120 miles) north of Calcutta when the accident happened.

Deputy Inspector General of Police, Prasun Mukherjee, said 46 bodies had been recovered from the river. The bus has also been pulled from the water.

He said the driver lost control of the bus while attempting to take a corner in early morning fog. The vehicle careered into the river in an area where huge parts of the roads had been eroded by rapids.

Overcrowded vehicle

Mr Mukherjee said his officers were still investigating how the 60-passenger capacity bus was carrying so many people. The bus was hired by the school for the picnic.

Overcrowded buses cause hundreds of deaths in India every year. In New Delhi alone, nearly 900 people were killed in 1997 in road accidents, most of them caused by commuter buses.

In November, 30 school children were drowned when an overcrowded school bus dived off a bridge and into the Yamuna river.

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