KATHMANDU: At least 35 pilgrims were killed Sunday when an overcrowded bus carrying them from India to a Hindu festival in southern Nepal swerved off a highway into a river.
The bus was taking the devotees -- most of whom were from the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh -- to a temple in Nawalparasi district, 150 kilometres (90 miles) west of the capital Kathmandu, said local police chief Gyan Bikram Shah.
"We have already found 35 dead bodies. Among them, there is one small girl, 10 women and the rest are men. We have not seen the bus -- it is still inside the water," police inspector Deepak Kumar Raya said by telephone from the crash site.
He said five survivors had told police there were around 75 people on board before it plunged into the Gandak river on Nepal's border with India.
"We are yet to find out the cause of the accident. The water level in the river was high as it is monsoon time so the bus on its way to Triveni sank... after skidding away from the road.
"Many of those who died are from Maharajganj district of Uttar Pradesh.
"They were here to attend the annual religious festival at Triveni and worship Lord Shiva, the Hindu god, on Monday morning."
Road accidents are relatively common in Nepal, due to poor surfaces, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving. (AFP)