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41 killed in India when bus plummets 200 feet into gorge

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
updated 6:42 AM EDT, Sat August 11, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • All of the bodies have been recovered from the gorge, a district official says
  • He says the bus was apparently overloaded, but an investigation has been ordered
  • Officials have addressed India's problems with road fatalities and infrastructure

New Delhi (CNN) -- At least 41 passengers were killed and 17 seriously injured Saturday when a bus plunged into a gorge in India's mountainous Himachal Pradesh state, authorities said.

The wreck occurred around 8.45 a.m. in the northern province's Chamba district, officials said.

An investigation has been ordered to determine the cause of the crash, but district administration chief Sunil Chaudhury said the bus appeared to have been overloaded.

Chaudhury said emergency crews have pulled out all the bodies from the 200-foot-deep gorge.

Tushar Chaudhary, India's deputy road transportation minister, addressed the country's national assembly in December about vehicular accidents and driver error.

In his statement to the national assembly, he cited a 2010 global report by the Geneva-based International Road Federation that showed India had recorded the highest number of fatalities in road crashes in 2008, followed by China and the United States.

India, Asia's third-largest economy, has had also issues with its infrastructure. The country needs at least $1 trillion in infrastructure investment across various sectors in the next five years to scale up its economic development, officials said.

In June, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India plans to award 9,500 kilometers of roads for construction and more than 4,000 kilometers for maintenance this year.

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