Thursday, March 3, 2011

Police: 40 die in road crashes in Indian mountains

DHARMSALA, India (AP) -- An open truck carrying a wedding party and a bus rolled into gorges in India's mountainous north, killing at least 40 people in two separate accidents, police said Thursday.

The trucked flipped over at a curve in the road in Himachal Pradesh state's Chamba district on Wednesday night, said police officer Madhusudan.

Rescuers recovered 33 bodies and took seven injured people to a hospital, said Madhusudan, who uses only one name.

The Press Trust of India news agency said the gorge was 300 feet (90 meters) deep. The region is nearly 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of the town of Dharmsala.

Another seven people were killed in the other nearby accident when their bus plunged into a gorge, Madhusudan said. They were being driven home from a nearby power project.

The drivers in both accidents were killed, and police were investigating what caused the crashes, Madhusudan said.

India, the world's second most populous nation, has the highest annual road death toll, according to the World Health Organization.

More than 110,000 people die each year across the country in crashes caused by speeding, bad roads, overcrowding and poor vehicle maintenance, according to police.

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