At least 48 dead as bus plunges into canal in India’s Madhya Pradesh state

At least 48 people were killed after a passenger bus plunged into a canal in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday.

At least 60 people were on-board the bus when it veered off a bridge and fell into the canal in the Sidhi district.

Rescue teams are looking for the missing passengers.

The state government has ordered an inquiry into the accident.

Eyewitnesses say that the driver lost control and the bus hit the boundary of the bridge before falling into the Sharda canal.

Busses are common mode of transport in smaller Indian towns. Often due to scarcity of busses and to maximize profits, operators run overcrowded buses flouting safety rules.

Some 150,000 people are killed on India’s roads every year, the highest in the world, mainly due to over-speeding and rash driving. More than 350,000 people are disabled annually in these accidents.

Men and women, aged between 18 and 45 years, make up 70% of the fatalities, according to union transport minister Nitin Gadkari.

According to a new World Bank report, 44% of households in rural areas reported at least one death after a road crash compared to 11.6% of households in urban areas.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, expressing his condolences for the families of the victims. “Bus accident in MP’s Sidhi is horrific. Condolences to the bereaved families. The local administration is actively involved in rescue and relief work.”