At least 27 students out 30 on board were killed on Monday evening when their school bus skidded off a mountain road into a 300-foot-deep gorge in the foothills of the Himalaya, officials said.
30 people died in the crash, Himachal Pradesh state transport minister Govind Singh Thakur told the media.
Most of the students died on the spot including two school teacher and a driver. At least a dozen people were taken to area hospitals.
Most of the students who died were below the age of 10, officials added.
Initial reports indicated that the bus driver was speeding and lost control at the edge of the gorge, with the bus crashing some 60 meters to the ground below, said police officer Sunil Kumar.
The accident occurred in the Kangra Valley situated 200 miles from the state capital Shimla.
Roads in India, particularly in the hills have long been feared for their deep potholes, reckless drivers and very often, a lack of guardrails, fatal accidents are common. In 2017, 15 students died after a school bus collided with a truck.
“I am deeply anguished by the loss of lives,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted. “My prayers and solidarity with those who lost their near and dear ones.”
Rescuers were still digging through the wreckage after nightfall looking for more survivors, Kumar said.
The chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, Jairam Thakur, expressed his condolence to the families of the students and assured them of a thorough investigation into the incident. He also announced an immediate relief of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of each deceased.
Officials said at least 40 people were traveling in the bus.