Three dozen Indian pilgrims and their Nepali guide had a lucky escape Christmas day morning when their bus jumped off the road and fell nearly 15 metres while heading towards a renowned temple, police said.
The group of pilgrims from Gujarat had paid a visit to the hallowed Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu and were going to Janakpur in southern Nepal when the accident occurred, police said.
"According to preliminary investigation, the driver saw a truck coming from the opposite direction and tried to swerve to avoid hitting it," Inspector Angur G.C. told IANS. "In doing so, it fell nearly 15 metres below the road at around 7 a.m."
The pilgrims had a miraculous escape. Only 17, including six women were injured. But by afternoon, all were released from the Hetauda Hospital after first aid.
The police officer said only the driver sustained serious injuries.
"It was difficult to extricate him from the toppled bus," he said. "We had to cut through the metal body to pull him out."
Nearly 70 pilgrims from Gujarat had embarked on the tour in two buses. The other vehicle was unscathed.
The pilgrims were scheduled to visit the Janaki temple in Janakpur, where this month the annual Ram-Sita wedding festival was thronged by thousands of pilgrims from both India and Nepal.
From Janakpur, the Indian group was to have exited Nepal to return home via Bihar. Police said further details were awaited.
Nepal's roads remain one of the most accident-prone in the world. On Friday, five people died when a four-wheeler carrying them fell off the road. On Saturday, a motorcyclist was killed in a head-on collision.