Shimla: The death toll in the accident, in which an overcrowded truck skidded off the road and fell into a 200-foot deep gorge in Himachal Pradesh`s Mandi district, rose to 40 on Thursday, police said.
Thirty seven people, including 21 women and seven children, were killed and an equal number injured in the accident that occurred near Guru Kotha village in Balh Valley, about 30 km from Mandi town, Wednesday evening.
Three more people, including two women, succumbed to injuries at Chandigarh`s Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) Thursday morning, Assistant Superintendent of Police Hera Singh Thakur told a news agency.
The victims were mostly from Sudhyani village and were on their way home after attending a ceremony.
Superintendent of Police S. M. Agnihotri said the bodies would be handed over to the families Thursday after conducting post-mortem at the Zonal Hospital in Mandi.
He said seven injured were referred to the PGIMER Wednesday night. One family has lost eight members in the accident, Agnihotri added.
Witnesses told police that the truck was overcrowded and the driver probably lost control over the vehicle while negotiating a turn.
Ramesh Kumar, an injured passenger, said rescuers had a tough time in extracting the victims from the truck. He said locals reached the spot first and rescued most of the injured.
The truck was turned into a double-decker by fitting wooden slats so that more passengers could be accommodated.
Trucks, used for transporting goods, are prohibited from carrying people. But such vehicles carrying a large number of passengers are a common sight in the state, especially during religious occasions.
Governor Urmila Singh, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh, who comes from the Mandi parliamentary constituency, expressed grief over the accident.
The accident spot is some 175 km from state capital Shimla.