About 100 people were feared dead after two packed passenger buses skidded off bridges in southern India amid heavy rains, police and officials said yesterday.
"We don't have all the details from the two districts yet, but we fear about 100 people have died in the two accidents," said an official from the office of Tamil Nadu State Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha.
The bridges had been swamped by water due to lashing rains, the worst in years, that have turned some parts of the state into lakes.
Television footage showed one bus upended in a fast-flowing river.
A police spokesman at the scene of one of the accidents near the town of Pattukottai in remote Thanjavur district said at least 49 people died when a bus plunged into a canal.
"Of the 49 bodies recovered there are two bodies which are not identified. The rest have been handed over to the relatives," the spokesman said.
"Bodies are being recovered as far as 15km from the spot where the bus was washed away," he said.
Police and fire rescue teams were searching the site for more bodies from the accident.
"It's hard to estimate the number of people who were in the bus. Eighty people is only a fair estimate," he added. He had no figures on any survivors.
A Press Trust of India news agency report from the site of the second accident in Raman-athapuram district said at least 50 people drowned when a bus was washed away by flood waters from the swollen Sirugani river.
The passengers were traveling to a temple town, the report said, adding the river was high due to unseasonal rains lashing parts of coastal Tamil Nadu.
The rains, caused by low pressure in the Bay of Bengal, have battered Tamil Nadu for days.