At least 30 passengers, most of them women and children, were killed when a speeding private bus in which they were travelling plunged into a canal in Karnataka's Mandya district on Saturday, officials said.
The bus, which was moving on a road along the VC canal at Kanaganamaradi, 105 km South-West of Bengaluru, swerved and toppled into it, completely submerging the vehicle and killing the victims instantaneously, officials said.
Police said 30 bodies have been recovered and two people were rescued.
Among those killed were eight men, 13 women and nine children, they said.
Preliminary reports suggested that negligence on the part of the driver may have caused the accident, officials said.
The fate of the driver and conductor was not known.
Officials have handed over most of the bodies to the family members.
Most of those killed were from nearby Vadesamudra village, locals said.
They said the children were returning home after half day school when the accident took place.
Long wails of grief-stricken kin ofthe victims rent the air as rescue teams fished out the bodies oneafter the other.
The district authorities roped in a crane to lift the bus from the canal.
Police had a difficult time controlling the crowds as people living nearby thronged the mishap site.
Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy rushed to the accident spot, cancelling all his official engagements.
The state government has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of those killed.
"The chief minister has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the deceased.
Deeply pained by the incident, he has prayed to God to give strength to the families of the deceased to help them bear the loss," the chief minister's office said.
President Ramnath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and state opposition leader B S Yeddyurappa expressed grief over the loss of lives.
"Extremely saddened to learn about the tragic bus accident in Mandya, Karnataka. Thoughts and prayers with the bereaved families and with the injured. I understand local authorities are making efforts to rescue and help affected passengers," the president tweeted.
"Deeply pained by the bus accident in Karnataka's Mandya. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased. May God give them strength in this hour of sadness: PM @narendramodi," the prime minister's office said in a tweet.
"I'm sorry to hear about the terrible bus accident in Mandya district of Karnataka, in which over 20 people are feared dead & many others injured. I extend my deepestcondolences to the families of the deceased & pray for the speedy recovery of the injured," Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet.
Girish, a carpenter who was rescued, said he survived as he was lucky and knew swimming.
"I'm not sure what caused the accident, but it looks like it was the driver's fault. Fifteen people from my village and some of my relatives died," he said.
"There was no chance fora nyone to survive. I survived as I was sitting next to a window," he said.
Girish reportedly helped another survivor, Rohit, a school boy.
A case has been registered against the driver, police said.