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46 Students Die in India Bus Crash

January 13, 1998

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ An overcrowded bus carrying high school students back from a picnic skidded into a river today, killing at least 46 children and leaving 23 others missing and feared dead, police and news reports said.

Rescuers saved 17 of the 86 students aboard the bus, which was traveling in India’s West Bengal state, Press Trust of India news agency said quoting police.

Police recovered 46 bodies from the swirling waters of the Bhagirathi River and retrieved the bus, said Prasun Mukherjee, deputy inspector-general of police. The 23 missing students also were feared drowned.

The driver lost control of the bus on a foggy road. ``The bus driver failed to take a turn and went into the river,″ Mukherjee said in a telephone interview from Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal state.

The bus had a capacity of just 60 passengers. Overcrowded buses cause hundreds of deaths in India every year. In New Delhi alone, nearly 900 people were killed in 1997 in road accidents, most of them caused by commuter buses.

In November, 30 schoolchildren drowned when an overcrowded school bus dived off a bridge and into the Yamuna River.

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