At least 38 people have been killed after an overcrowded bus carrying Hindu pilgrims skidded off a slippery highway and plunged into a canal in southern Nepal.
"We have discovered 38 dead bodies. Five persons who jumped off from the bus before it plunged into the river are undergoing treatment at local hospitals," police inspector Deepak Raya told AFP news agency from the crash site.
"Among them, there is one small girl, 10 women and the rest are men." He said.
Police official Gyan Bikram Shah said the bus was so packed that some people were riding on the roof.
One police officer said around 75 people had been onboard before the vehicle fell into Gandak river on Nepal's border with India.
The driver lost control on the rain-slicked road, and the bus plunged into a flooded irrigation canal near the pilgrimage sie of Triveni, Shah said.
Most of those on board are believed to be Indian nationals from the neighbouring Indian state of Uttar Pradesh state who were visiting Nepal on an annual pilgrimage to Hindu temples there.
However, the victims' nationalities and identities were not yet clear because Indian nationals do not need to register when they cross into Nepal, the official said.
Shah said the death toll is likely to climb higher.
The driver is believed to have survived the crash, but may have fled later, he said.
The area is about 160km southwest of the capital, Katmandu.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|