Bus Accident Himachal Pradesh
[Representational Image] A bus accident near Gangath village in Himachal Pradesh's Kangra district claimed the lives of at least one school student and injured 36 others on Monday.Reuters File

UPDATE: 2:35 p.m. IST — The death toll has risen to 30 after a bus fell into a deep gorge in the village of Sonapur, located in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district, the Times of India said in a tweet.

The Hindustan Times quoted Meghalaya's Additional Superintendent of Police Lethindra Sangma as saying five people have been rescued from the gorge and are in critical condition.

"The bus had about 35 people, and the gorge is so deep that the chances of their survival are slim," Sangma was quoted by the daily as saying.

Original Story —

At least 26 people have reportedly been killed and eight injured after a bus fell into a deep gorge in East Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya.

However, ANI said in a tweet that the mishap occurred in Assam.

The bus, travelling from Silchar to Guwahati, skidded off the road and plunged into a deep gorge near Sonapur Mandir on the East Jaintia Hills late on Tuesday night, according to a report by the Shillong Times.

The daily quoted the police as saying it fears at least 95 percent of the passengers have been killed, but rescue operations are nevertheless underway. The Border Security Force (BSF), the police, other government personnel and locals are reportedly carrying out the rescue operations in the area.

They are apparently finding it difficult to carry out rescue operations effectively as the bus fell almost 500 feet into the gorge. The area is steep, due to which the police could initially rescue only one person.

"The area where the bus fell is dark and our men are using ropes to climb down. Our efforts are on to carry four to five persons who we believe are the survivors of the bus accident," Spill Thamar, district police chief of the East Jaintia Hills, was quoted by the Shillong Times as saying. Thamar added that the exact cause of the accident had not been determined.

He also said it was difficult to ascertain how many passengers had died in the accident as the rescuers are still trying to locate the victims.

"We fear that due to the impact of the accident, the passengers may have scattered around the accident spot, and an update will be available only on Wednesday morning," Thamar was quoted by the daily as saying. He also said lack of electricity in the area was the main reason for the delay as people are having to risk their lives to rescue the victims of the accident.

Shillong Times quoted the superintendent of police as saying that this was the first time a night bus had fallen into a gorge.