Bus falls into river in Nepal, killing 17 and injuring 50

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FILE- In this Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, file photo Nepalese people crowd the roof of a public bus in Kathmandu, Nepal. As Nepal prepares to welcome Britain’s Prince Harry this weekend, there’s a yearning among some Nepalis fed up with the political instability and bureaucratic malaise to bring back the monarchy they abolished nearly a decade ago. While the royalty was blamed everything that was wrong with the country, many would argue that it is actually worse off now, with jobs scarce, development slow and the much-desired constitution prompting ethnic protests that have led to roadblocks and supply shortages. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha, File)

KATHMANDU, Nepal  An overcrowded bus drove off a mountain highway and crashed in a river in Nepal, killing 17 people and injuring 50 more, a police official said Monday.

The bus was packed with people returning from festivals and appeared to have a mechanical problem before skidding off the highway on Sunday, Police official Madhav Kafle said.

Among the injured, 21 were still hospitalized Monday for medical treatment.

Kafle said passengers heard a loud sound and the steering appeared to have failed before the bus drove off the highway and crashed in the Sunkoshi River 20 metres (70 feet) below.

The crash site is about 120 kilometres (75 miles) east of the capital, Kathmandu.

The bus was crowded because the Tihar festival ended last week and many people were returning back to work from their villages.

Bus accidents in Nepal, covered mostly by mountains, are blamed on poorly maintained vehicles and roads.