Death toll in Nepal bus crash rises to 36

20/05/2008 - 15:48

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nineteen more bodies were found in southwest Nepal on Tuesday near the wreckage of a bus packed with pilgrims that plunged into a river, rescue officials said, bringing the death toll to 36.

Heavy rains had hampered the rescue effort at Rapti riverin Dang district, about 270 km (170 miles) southwest ofKathmandu.

"Once the wreckage is taken out, the death toll could go upas more bodies could have been trapped in it," said JitendraKarki, an army officer. Officials said as dozens of peoplecould still be missing as they did not know how many passengerswere onboard the packed bus.

The bus, which was headed to a famous Hindu shrine, hadveered off the mountain road in west Nepal and plunged into theriver on Monday.

People often travel on the roof of packed buses in Nepal,where accidents are common on its hilly and poorly maintainedroads.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Jonathan Allen andValerie Lee)

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