At least 31 people, including 11 children, died when an overcrowded bus swerved off the road and plunged into a river in central Nepal on Saturday, police said.
The bus skidded off the road in Dhading district, approximately 80 kilometres (50 miles) west of the capital Kathmandu, early morning and plunged into the Trishuli River.
The death toll rose to 31 late afternoon after more bodies were recovered from the river, Police Inspector Barun Bahadur Singh, who is at the scene of the accident, confirmed.
Local TV footage showed rescue workers pulling the dead and injured from the water, while soldiers in boats scoured the river for the missing.
At least 16 injured passengers were taken to local hospitals, police said.
“The number of missing is still unknown as the bus had no record of the total number of passengers,” district police chief Dhruba Raj Raut told AFP.
Authorities are yet to confirm the cause of the crash, but local media quoted passengers saying that the driver may have been drunk.
Police Inspector Singh told AFP that the driver was injured in the accident and is thought to have fled after freeing himself from the wreckage of the bus.
“The driver of the bus is suspected of running away right after the incident and we have expedited the search operation in the nearby areas,” he said.
Deadly crashes are relatively common in the impoverished Himalayan nation because of poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.