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17 Indian pilgrims die in bus accident in Nepal


Kathmandu: At least 17 Indian pilgrims including nine women were killed and 28 others injured today when a bus carrying them from Gujarat plunged some 100 metres from a mountain highway in Nepal, officials said.

The ill-fated bus with Indian number plate, carrying around 45 pilgrims, veered off the Prithvi highway at Naubise village in Dhading district, some 75-km east of Kathmandu.

The pilgrims from Gujarat were returning to Gorakhpur in India after a pilgrimage to Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, Superintendent of Police Bishworaj Pokharel said.

14 passengers died on the spot while three others succumbed to their injuries shortly after being taken to a nearby hospital. Nine women and eight men are among those killed.

The injured passengers were rushed to Kathmandu for medical treatment. The condition of four of them was said to be critical.

Twenty one people are still in the hospital undergoing treatment, according to Indian Embassy sources.

The embassy has deputed a team comprising Consular Wing officials to the accident site to better coordinate the rescue efforts, the embassy said in a statement.

Rescue efforts are going on at the accident site, which lies along the Tribhuvan Highway, with the help of security personnel and the local people, he said.

The death toll might rise as the bus was trapped in a gorge like site and some passenger might have been trapped under the bus, Pokharel said.

The famous 5th century Pashupatinath temple is dedicated to a manifestation of Shiva called Pashupati (Lord of Animals). It attracts thousands of pilgrims each year, mostly from India.

The number of Indian visitors coming to the temple has increased after Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered prayer here in November last year during his visit to the country.

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